HumanInsight Telemedicine Has a Social Impact: An Italian National Study for the Evaluation of the Cost-Opportunity for Patients and Caregivers and the Measurement of Carbon Emission Savings
Telemed J E Health. 2023 Jan 13. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2022.0333. Online ahead of print.
Background: Owing to COVID-19, all stakeholders have recognized the advantages of telehealth and they were available for its permanent implementation, both from the normative and economic point of view. It is, therefore, necessary to understand what were the real benefits created in society through telehealth. Objective: Develop a method to identify a social impact of telemedicine in Italy, considering the reduction on the patient moves with a consequent travel cost, time (opportunity costs), and carbon emission savings. Methods: Since March 2020, we have conducted a quality improvement study in 17 centers, collecting sociodemographic variables. To assess the social impact, we transform the data into outcome measures. The protocol used "Telemedicina Subito" allows the rapid implementation of telemedicine, using operating manual, structured according Health Technology Assessment approach. Results: We collected data related to 2,091 televisits, analyzing three different perspectives. First, one patient with a televisit had a saving equal to the median of EUR 97.16 (interquartile range [IQR]: 64.29-159.69), USD 113.88; considering that the median cost for the visit in presence was EUR 105.91 (p-value <0.05) and after the use of telehealth had a median of EUR 0 (mean: EUR 14.70; p-value <0.05). Second, informal caregivers have a median savings of EUR 65.06 (IQR: 55.52-89.21), USD 76.26. Finally, for one single telemedicine visits we can contribute with a median carbon emission savings of ∼13 kg (IQR: 6-24). Conclusions: The evaluation of the social impact on telemedicine facilitated the creation of an important framework for decision-makers.
PMID:36637858 | DOI:10.1089/tmj.2022.0333
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