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Telemed J E Health. 2010 Oct;16(8):867-71. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2010.0054. Epub 2010 Oct 6.

Cost savings of telemedicine utilization for child psychiatry in a rural Kansas community.

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Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, USA.


The costs of pediatric telemedicine services remain underreported and understudied; however, there is evidence that telepediatric services can be cost competitive with traditional ones. For 15 years, the University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth has been providing telemental health outreach from the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). One service site is located in Crawford County, Kansas, which provides telepsychiatry services to children and adolescents. The purpose of this study was to examine the costs of operating the Crawford County site relative to accessing services at KUMC, the likely alternative service location. The cost of travel time to parents who accompanied a dependent to either location also was estimated. Patients and parents were examined over a 6-month period in 2006. One hundred thirty-two patients received 257 telemedicine psychiatric consultations during this period. Cost estimates for using the pediatric telemedicine service were assessed for all patients; however, travel and related costs were collected from a sample of 26 patient-parent dyads. The estimated costs of services were obtained using standard cost-accounting procedures. An average cost per consultation in Crawford County was $168.61. The cost savings in travel time and other expenses to parents and patients were substantial between use of the county site and KUMC. Subtracting average savings in travel costs to patients and parents produced an average cost of a telepsychiatry consult in Crawford County of only $30.99. This study was conducted over 6 months with a small number of observations; it should be replicated over a longer study period, with more patients, and with more data that might capture marginal costs of services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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