Objective The objective of this study was to estimate travel-related and environmental savings resulting from the use of telemedicine for outpatient specialty consultations with a university telemedicine program. Methods The study was designed to retrospectively analyze the telemedicine consultation database at the University of California Davis Health System (UCDHS) between July 1996 and December 2013. Travel distances and travel times were calculated between the patient home, the telemedicine clinic, and the UCDHS in-person clinic. Travel cost savings and environmental impact were calculated by determining differences in mileage reimbursement rate and emissions between those incurred in attending telemedicine appointments and those that would have been incurred if a visit to the hub site had been necessary. Results There were 19,246 consultations identified among 11,281 unique patients. Telemedicine visits resulted in a total travel distance savings of 5,345,602 miles, a total travel time savings of 4,708,891 minutes or 8.96 years, and a total direct travel cost savings of $2,882,056. The mean per-consultation round-trip distance savings were 278 miles, average travel time savings were 245 minutes, and average cost savings were $156. Telemedicine consultations resulted in a total emissions savings of 1969 metric tons of CO2, 50 metric tons of CO, 3.7 metric tons of NOx, and 5.5 metric tons of volatile organic compounds. Conclusions This study demonstrates the positive impact of a health system's outpatient telemedicine program on patient travel time, patient travel costs, and environmental pollutants.
- cost analysis
- health economics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health