Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors: An Observational Study of a Community-Embedded Health Monitoring Initiative

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Apr;26(4):438-445. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2018.0248. Epub 2019 Apr 17.


Background:Chronic disease in older adults is estimated to account for 84% of annual health care spending in the United States, with many preventable costs expected to rise as the population continues to age.Introduction:Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors (TIPS) is a community-embedded program targeting low-income older adults, providing weekly assessment of vital signs and subjective wellness, and wrap-around aging services.Materials and Methods:TIPS recruited 765 volunteers over 55 years, who were Medicaid and/or Medicare eligible. Data were collected from 2014 to 2016 [median enrollment 343 days (105-435)] using 12 TIPS sites. This observational study evaluated the efficacy of TIPS by measuring within-subject changes in self-reported hospital visits and <30-day readmissions, before and during TIPS participation. Data of 617 participants (median age 74.3; interquartile range 16) were analyzed.Results:Self-reported hospital visits were reduced by 28.9% (p = 0.0013). Medicare participants benefited the most, with a 50% (p < 0.0001) reduction in hospital visits, and a 75.5% (p = 0.017) reduction in <30-day readmissions. Multivariate analysis revealed that participants (1) Medicaid-registered (odds ratio [OR] = 2.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.392-1.611), (2) reporting feeling unwell (OR = 1.33, 95% CI 0.118-0.459), and (3) living alone (OR = 2.34, 95% CI 0.115-1.592) were significantly more likely than other participants to experience a hospital visit.Discussion:TIPS demonstrates that community-embedded health services can reduce rates of hospital visits in older adults.Conclusion:The success of TIPS highlights the potential of successfully deployed remote patient-monitoring initiatives in reducing the utilization of costly health services.

Keywords: chronic disease; older adults; remote patient monitoring; telehealth.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Community Health Services
  • Humans
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare*
  • Patient Readmission
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States