Abstract: Introduction: The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two geriatrician models of care, the telegeriatric service (TGS) and visiting geriatrician (VG), in regional and remote settings in terms of potential cost-savings to the health system and impact on health service use (HSU). Furthermore, to establish whether longer wait-times for clinic appointments led to increased HSU by study participants. Methods: Trends in patient emergency department presentations, hospitalisations and bed-days (HSU) were compared from 18 months before to 12 months after geriatrician appointment for the two services in the Western Australian Midwest region. The relationships between wait times, patient triage level and HSU were modelled. The costs of providing the services were offset against reductions in HSU after appointments. Results: The sample comprised consecutive patients using the TGS (n = 84) and VG service (n = 124). Patient characteristics were similar, although patients using the VG service had longer wait-times, were triaged as more urgent and demonstrated the highest levels of HSU. Both models were effective with similar rates of reduced HSU following appointments. Increased wait-times and higher patient triage urgency were associated with increased HSU. Discussion: Although TGS and VG showed similar reduced rates of HSU, TGS had the capacity to see a higher volume of patients, a broader geographical reach and improved waitlist management. Consequently, TGS was more effective at reducing avoidable hospitalisations and subsequent health deterioration due to shorter wait-times. Whilst face-to-face consultations are recognised as ‘gold standard’ a combination of the two models is most efficient.
Lillicrap, Louise, Hunter, Christine, Goldswain, Peter, 2019, Improving geriatric care and reducing hospitalisations in regional and remote areas: The benefits of telehealth, Journal Article, viewed 16 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=16392.