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How telehealth can help medically complex elders achieve better outcomes while also reducing healthcare costs

A recent study conducted by Seniorlink, Inc. found that medically complex patients age 65 and older had dramatically lower rates of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and falls when family caregivers and clinicians engaged with each other through a technology-enabled care plan. The analysis also revealed that this approach resulted in a significant reduction in healthcare costs.

The results further illustrated the benefits of technology-enabled caregiving that were released in a joint study last year by Seniorlink and health and aging services expert Anne Tumlinson. That study, which examined data from almost 2,000 Seniorlink patients in Massachusetts and Indiana and compared it to the national benchmark Medicare Current Beneficiaries Survey (MCBS), found that the U.S. healthcare system could save $2.8 million annually for every 1,000 highly complex patients by engaging family caregivers with clinical care teams.

Elderly patients suffering from five or more chronic health conditions, and needing assistance with three or more activities of daily living, experienced a 40 percent reduction in hospitalizations, a 32 percent drop in ER visits and 75 percent fewer falls when supported by Seniorlink’s connected program, the analysis found.

“As the U.S. population ages and medical needs increase, it becomes imperative for us to find ways to engage family caregivers in care delivery and connect them with professional care teams through technology,” said Thomas Riley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seniorlink.

Jay V. Patel, Clinical Transformation Officer at Seniorlink, presented the study’s results in a poster entitled, “Seniorlink Improves Outcomes, Reduces Costs, and Facilitates Aging in Place for Complex Populations” at the American Society on Aging’s Aging in America conference, which took place on March 26-29 in San Francisco. Patel discussed the poster in the conference’s Exhibit Hall on March 28th.

“Our study demonstrates that as a patient requires more complex medical and psychosocial needs, Seniorlink’s care collaboration solutions have a dramatic effect on outcomes and cost savings,” Patel said.

Seniorlink offers a set of care collaboration solutions that balance human touch and technology. The company supplements its intensive in-home care management model with its HIPAA-secure care collaboration platform, Vela, which connects care providers, including nurse case managers, patient advocates and pharmacists, directly with patients and family caregivers.

As a result, the company feels it is well-positioned to help improve patient outcomes for populations that face a wide variety of medical needs, or are impacted by numerous socioeconomic factors or behavioral issues. Analysis of the data compiled in last year’s study also found that Seniorlink patients under the age of 65 with behavioral health issues such as dementia or psychiatric conditions also had a 24 percent decline in hospitalizations, a 33 percent reduction and an 88 percent drop in falls when compared with the general Medicare population.

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