"If we can just take care of people in their home, it's the easiest possibility, it's a comfortable environment, you don't have to travel and I think that for folks with dementia that can be a complete game changer than the environment that we put them in in the hospital."

At the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, California, Manish Shah, MD, MPH, presented findings from a secondary analysis that showed that telemedicine in senior living communities can effectively decrease emergency department use by individuals with dementia.

Shah explained that since these findings come from an observational study, additional research is needed to understand how to effectively engage those with dementia and care facilities in implementing and optimizing its use.
In the analysis, investigators compared the rate of emergency department use among subjects with dementia and access to high-intensity telemedicine services to control subjects with dementia but without access to the service.

There were a total of 1356 emergency department visits (n=287 intervention; n=1069 control) and a total of 717 observation and inpatient hospitalizations (n=165 intervention; n=552 control) over the course of the study, while the intervention group had 201 telemedicine visits. The investigators reported that in patients with dementia, it is estimated that access to services is associated with an annualized 24% decrease in emergency department visits (P <.05).

To further discuss how a high-intensity telemedicine program that delivers care for acute illnesses can effect emergency care rates for those with dementia, NeurologyLive spoke with the professor of emergency medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in an interview.

For more coverage of AAIC 2019, click here.

Shah M, Gillespie S, Wasserman E, et al. High Intensity Telemedicine Reduces Emergency Department Use By Older Adults with Dementia in Senior Living Communities. Presented at: 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. July 14-18, 2019; Los Angeles, CA.