July 26, 2023

Association of telemedicine with direct medical costs

Editor's Note

This study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, finds that telemedicine use is associated with lower direct medical costs.

A total of 2,938 outpatient department visits and 20,204 office-based visits were included in the analysis. Of these 47.6% of outpatient department and 24.7% of office-based visits were made through telemedicine.

Telemedicine use for outpatient department visits was associated with lower total costs (average marginal effect: -$228) and out-of-pocket costs for all visits, whether to specialists, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.

For office-based visits, telemedicine use was associated with lower total costs, but not with lower out-of-pocket costs, for visits with primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants, and for visits by Medicare patients.

The researchers concluded that the potential for cost curbing with the use of telemedicine should be proactively identified and integrated into clinical practice and health policy.

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