Telemedicine is becoming commonplace, and that’s a good thing. The COVID-19 pandemic boosted the transition from in-person medical consults only to remote care. The arguments in favor of remote patient monitoring and connected care services include convenience, time-savings, lower infection risks, and more. Four years ago we wrote about one of the most significant advantages of telemedicine: reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions. These include instances where patient monitoring could have picked up early signs of problems. In a new study, researchers from California and Massachusetts found that telemedicine for elderly persons in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) could reduce emergency department transfers by up to 80%.

Researchers from West Health Institute in La Jolla, California and the Departments of Emergency Medicine at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital conducted the study of emergency department transfers from SNFs. The group published the results of the study in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. The study focused on SNF-based telemedicine with emergency physicians provided via the Curve Health platform. Curve Health provides a senior care platform to SNFs. The Curve Health platform incorporates telemedicine, AI-driven predictive analytics, health information exchange, and smart billing.

The study included a control group of 2,295 patients in SNFs without telemedicine emergency care services and 2,311 patients in six northeastern U.S. SNFs that provided telemedicine emergency care with the Curve Health platform. All of the patients underwent an emergency evaluation during 2017. The study results were dramatic. During the year, 71% of patients in the control group who had emergency evaluations at an emergency department were admitted to the hospital. Among the patients who received emergency evaluations via telemedicine, only 27% were admitted to the hospital.

The results show that telemedicine can save lives, head off crises for people with chronic health conditions, and save literally billions of dollars annually by eliminating avoidable hospital admissions.