An economic and health outcome evaluation of telehealth in rural sepsis care: a comparative effectiveness study

J Comp Eff Res. 2022 Jul;11(10):703-716. doi: 10.2217/cer-2022-0019. Epub 2022 May 24.


Aim: Sepsis is a top contributor to in-hospital mortality and, healthcare expenditures and telehealth have been shown to improve short-term sepsis care in rural hospitals. This study will evaluate the effect of provider-to-provider video telehealth in rural emergency departments (EDs) on healthcare costs and long-term outcomes for sepsis patients. Materials & methods: We will use Medicare administrative claims to compare total healthcare expenditures, mortality, length-of-stay, readmissions, and category-specific costs between telehealth-subscribing and control hospitals. Results: The results of this work will demonstrate the extent to which telehealth use is associated with total healthcare expenditures for sepsis care. Conclusion: These findings will be important to inform future policy initiatives to improve sepsis care in rural EDs. Clinical Trial Registration: NCT05072145 (

Keywords: costs and cost analysis; emergency service; hospital; rural health services; sepsis; telemedicine.

Plain language summary

Sepsis is a severe condition that results from infection. In addition to costly care, sepsis is a leading cause of death and disability. When comparing outcomes, those treated for sepsis in lower volume emergency departments fare worse and rural emergency departments often have lower patient volumes. While telehealth has been shown to improve sepsis care, the effect of telehealth on costs and long-term outcomes for patients is unclear. This study will use Medicare claims data to compare outcomes for people with sepsis in rural emergency departments who had video telehealth used with those who did not have video telehealth used, with the goal of measuring how telehealth affects healthcare costs, hospital readmissions and deaths after hospital discharge.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Sepsis* / therapy
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States

Associated data