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Telemedicine offers both soft and hard return on investment, including cost savings avoidance and convenience of access to care. Incarcerated individuals represent a patient population that uniquely benefit from receiving care via telemedicine. They lack access to subspecialty care as prison facilities are located outside of urban areas, which is compounded by security risks, risk to individuals around inmates, and transportation cost to tertiary care facilities. To attend a brief in-office medical visit, an inmate requires hours of administrative support and logistical coordination, including appointment scheduling, transport arrangement and related fuel expense, and guard accompaniment - all at a financial cost to taxpayers. Telemedicine stands as a proven solution to decrease these costs and improve access to the care of inmates. The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Office of Telemedicine has provided telemedicine visits to more than 45,000 patients over 22 years and encompasses over 15 subspecialties, which have facilitated care to incarcerated patients at 30 Department of Corrections (DOC) sites in Virginia. Cost savings analysis was performed by the VCU Office of Telemedicine for the 2016 fiscal year. The amount saved per telemedicine visit was estimated by calculating officer costs and transportation costs associated with transporting an inmate to an on-site visit. It was found that each telemedicine visit represents a cost avoidance of $800 per visit. There were 2,850 Virginia DOC telemedicine visits in the fiscal year 2016, resulting in over 2 million dollars in estimated cost savings.
telemedicine, department of corrections, cost savings
Vimal Mishra, MD
Is Part Of
VCU Graduate Research Posters