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Darkins A, Ryan P, Kobb R, Foster L, Edmonson E, Wakefield B, Lancaster AE. Care Coordination/Home Telehealth: the systematic implementation of health informatics, home telehealth, and disease management to support the care of veteran patients with chronic conditions. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2008 Dec 1; 14(10):1118-26.
Between July 2003 and December 2007, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) introduced a national home telehealth program, Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT). Its purpose was to coordinate the care of veteran patients with chronic conditions and avoid their unnecessary admission to long-term institutional care. Demographic changes in the veteran population necessitate VHA increase its noninstitutional care (NIC) services 100% above its 2007 level to provide care for 110,000 NIC patients by 2011. By 2011, CCHT will meet 50% of VHA's anticipated NIC provision. CCHT involves the systematic implementation of health informatics, home telehealth, and disease management technologies. It helps patients live independently at home. Between 2003 and 2007, the census figure (point prevalence) for VHA CCHT patients increased from 2,000 to 31,570 (1,500% growth). CCHT is now a routine NIC service provided by VHA to support veteran patients with chronic conditions as they age. CCHT patients are predominantly male (95%) and aged 65 years or older. Strict criteria determine patient eligibility for enrollment into the program and VHA internally assesses how well its CCHT programs meet standardized clinical, technology, and managerial requirements. VHA has trained 5,000 staff to provide CCHT. Routine analysis of data obtained for quality and performance purposes from a cohort of 17,025 CCHT patients shows the benefits of a 25% reduction in numbers of bed days of care, 19% reduction in numbers of hospital admissions, and mean satisfaction score rating of 86% after enrolment into the program. The cost of CCHT is $1,600 per patient per annum, substantially less than other NIC programs and nursing home care. VHA's experience is that an enterprise-wide home telehealth implementation is an appropriate and cost-effective way of managing chronic care patients in both urban and rural settings.