HomeHEALTHStudy: Telehealth use linked to lower cancer care costs

Study: Telehealth use linked to lower cancer care costs

Oncology patients save both time and travel costs when using telehealth services, reducing the cost burden associated with cancer care, according to a study published in jama network open,

The economic evaluation, conducted through the Moffitt Cancer Center, estimated patient cost savings due to telehealth, including travel costs and potential loss of productivity due to medical travel.

Researchers evaluated 25,496 telehealth visits that occurred between April 2020 and June 2021, involving 11,688 Floridian patients aged 18 to 65.

Among 4,525 new or established trips and 20,971 follow-up trips, the estimated average total cost savings ranged from $147.40 to $0.56 per mile to $186.10 to $0.82 per mile.

Savings related to new or established visits ranged from $176.60 to $0.56 per mile to $222.80 to $0.82 per mile, while those for follow-up visits ranged from $141.10 to $0.56 to $178.10 to $0.82 per mile.

Travel cost was based on roundtrip distance using a car, while loss of productivity was defined as loss of income from roundtrip travel as well as loss of income from individual clinic visits.

“Telehealth was associated with a total savings of 3,789,963 roundtrip travel miles, which is equivalent to traveling around the Earth 152.2 times, and a total savings of 75,055 roundtrip drive hours, which is equivalent to 8.6 calendar years. An additional 3.4 calendar years (29,626 hours ) saved in clinic visits using telehealth,” wrote the study authors.

why does it matter

The researchers noted that the study has limitations, as it focused on patients attending a tertiary/quaternary referral center, where patients may have to travel long distances due to their specific need for cancer care.

Income projections and employment rates may also vary due to the inability of some cancer patients to work during treatment, thus the estimated savings from loss of productivity may vary. In addition, the researchers recognized that travel time and travel time could not be factored in when evaluating cost savings due to productivity losses.

The researchers did not account for the cost of electronic devices used for telehealth visits or expenses associated with Internet access. Region of residence (rural versus urban), race, education and insurance type were also not considered.

“Cancer patients spend a great deal of time and money traveling to receive care. Using a large data set, we found that cancer care delivery via telehealth can result in time, travel and cost savings for cancer patients. which may reduce the financial toxicity of cancer care. Future studies should explore other cost savings, such as savings to cancer caregivers and how these differ for rural and urban patients with cancer. are,” the researchers wrote.

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