Study: Telehealthcare Could Improve Care for Elderly With Depression

Early results from a pilot study suggest that telemedicine-based care could help improve treatment for geriatric depression, according to a presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association of Home Care and Hospice, Healthcare IT News reports.

Thomas Sheeran, a clinical psychiatrist at Rhode Island Hospital, led the study and presented its findings.

Study Methodology

The project integrated evidence-based depression care with existing telehealth programs in Florida, New York and Vermont.

Researchers started the study at the Cornell Homecare Research Project at Weill Cornell Medical College and completed the project at Rhode Island Hospital in collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Telemedicine Program.

Project Findings

When the study began, 19 patients met the full criteria for major depression with a mean depression severity score in the “markedly severe” range, Sheeran said. He added that during the follow-up to the study, mean depression severity scores were in the “mild” range.

Sheeran said that most of the elderly patients involved in the study reported that they:

  • Believed the telemedicine program had improved their care;
  • Encountered few technical difficulties with the technology;
  • Felt comfortable using the telemedicine equipment;
  • Were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall program; and
  • Would be willing to participate in the telehealth program again (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 10/4).

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