Telehealth’s Tremendous Travel Savings

April 28, 2017  by InTouch Health

Since the advent of web conferencing services like GoToMeeting, businesses have saved millions of dollars in travel costs. Now we’re getting proof that telehealth does the same for patients.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento have gathered data from the hospital’s 18 years of offering specialty care telehealth services. The results are astonishing: telehealth eliminated the need for patients to travel five million miles, saved nine years’ worth of travel time, and saved patients $3 million in travel costs. For each patient served, that’s an average of 278 fewer miles traveled and $156 in travel savings.

The UC Davis telehealth program now spans 30 specialties and serves patients in 56 out of 58 California counties. So let’s look at a hypothetical example:

Let’s say that a parent in Fresno, California takes his child by car to see Dr. James Marcin, chief of UC Davis’s pediatric critical care team (who was also lead researcher on the cost-savings study). That’s roughly five hours of travel time (350 miles round-trip), plus about $36 in gas. Not to mention missed work time and a 2½-hour delay in getting a seriously ill child seen by a specialist.

The UC Davis research on telehealth’s time and cost savings confirms what we first learned in the famous Lindbergh Operation on Sept. 7, 2001, when a surgeon in New York City successfully performed an operation on a patient in Strasbourg, France.

InTouch Health founder, Yulun Wang, PhD. helped provide the technology that made the Lindbergh Operation possible – and even he would be impressed by the millions of travel dollars that telehealth has saved since that historic procedure.

And in case you’re wondering, a flight from New York City to Strasbourg now takes ten hours and costs about $4,600 for a round-trip ticket.