Economics of using telemedicine to supplement hospice care in rural areas

Adam F. Lomenick, Sandy J. Kuhlman, Joe L. Barnes, Tami Gurley-Calvez, Ashley O. Spaulding, Hope M. Krebill, Gary C. Doolittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Hospice care in rural areas is often characterized by provider shortages and vast geographical service areas to cover, making access to quality end-of-life care challenging. Telemedicine, broadly, is the utilization of interactive televideo (ITV) technology to provide health services over a distance. For over 25 years, telemedicine has been proposed as a solution to address access issues. In 2015, the University of Kansas Medical Center (Kansas City, Kansas) partnered with Hospice Services, Inc. (HSI) (Phillipsburg, Kansas), to augment traditional, face-to-face (FTF) hospice care with hospice care delivered through mobile tablets. Objective: This work examines the costs of TeleHospice (TH) (telemedicine use in hospice care) when compared with the costs of FTF hospice services. Design: Detailed administrative data from July 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018, were analyzed to estimate the costs of service after TH use was inculcated into routine practice. Results: his, which averages a daily census of 34 patients, conducted 257 calls, averaging 28 hours a month. The average time for a TH call was 18 and 17 minutes for nursing and medical director calls, respectively. Through various hospice functions, including administrative, patient, and nonpatient-related connections, HSI saved over $115,000 in staff travel time and mileage reimbursement. Administratively, by hosting their weekly 15-member interdisciplinary meeting through ITV, HSI saved $29,869 of staff travel time and mileage reimbursement. Conclusions: Our estimates indicate substantial cost saving potential with the use of TH services. Further research is needed to assess the effects of TH utilization on the experiences and subsequent cost of hospice care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1461-1466
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • care delivery
  • cost savings
  • telehospice
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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