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Chronic wounds are frequent, affect quality of life, and increase care costs. Telemedicine provides potential for effective wound care management, especially for the monitoring of complex wounds at home.
The objective of the present study was to determine the clinical effects and costs of telemedicine for the follow-up of complex chronic wounds from the perspective of the public health insurance. The study ran over a period of 9 months.
We conducted a prospective, pragmatic, open-label, observational study and carried out a cost-effectiveness analysis. A total of 116 patients with chronic wounds were assigned to their choice of two groups: telemedicine (N = 77) and traditional follow-up (control; N = 39). The primary outcome was the time to healing. Secondary outcomes included percentage of wounds reaching target objective, percentage of wounds healed completely, outpatient care costs, travel costs, and hospitalizations.
Time to healing was shorter in the telemedicine group than in the control group (137 versus 174 days; p < .05). The percentage of wounds completely healed was not statistically different between the telemedicine and control group (66 percent versus 61 percent; p > .05). Outpatient care and hospitalization costs were not significantly different. The main results in terms of economic savings were medical transport costs reimbursed by the French public health insurance, which were significantly lower in the telemedicine group. Telemedicine costs were found to be €4,583 less per patient compared with standard practice over 9 months.
This trial suggests that telemedicine saves travel costs and results in a shorter healing time than traditional follow-up.
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