Does Telemedicine Reduce ED Congestion? Evidence from New York State

AbstractOvercrowding in emergency departments (EDs) is a common yet nagging problem. It is not only costly for hospitals but also compromises care quality and patient experience. Hence, finding effective ways to improve ED efficiency is of great importance. Using a large dataset of New York State, we investigate the role of telemedicine in enhancing ED efficiency. We show that on average, ED telemedicine adoption significantly reduces patients' length of stay by 15.3% and waiting time by 9.6%. Such an effect is not a byproduct of other widely adopted health IT applications. Interestingly, the effect of telemedicine is larger for less severe patients or when the ED is at a higher occupancy level. Also, we show that the efficiency improvement does not come at the expense of care quality or patient cost. Therefore, our research points to telemedicine as a potential cost-efficient solution to alleviate ED overcrowding.

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