Does telemedicine save anyone money?

Electronic communication between health care workers and patients typically saves time and improves disease management, but what about cost-effectiveness? That issue remains in question. Researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia looked at 80 clinical trials involving the use of telemedicine and found that distance medicine technology enables improved continuity of care.1

The technology improves the management of osteoarthritis, cardiac rehabilitation, and diabetes in particular, they reported. Telephone follow-up and reminders are the strategies that facilitate the most prominent clinical change. However, they wrote, "available evidence is insufficient to determine whether current telemedicine applications are cost-effective."


1. Balas EA, Jaffrey F, Kuperman GJ, et al. Electronic communication with patients: Evaluation of distance medicine technology. JAMA 1997; 278:152-159.