Geisinger Earns Inaugural Age-Inclusive Telehealth Innovative Practice Award
DANVILLE, Pa. – August 2, 2023 – Geisinger has been named the first-ever recipient of the Age-Inclusive Telehealth Innovative Practice Award for its efforts to expand access to quality health care to underserved older adults in the rural central and northeastern regions of Pennsylvania through telehealth technology. The award is given by the Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging (CE4TA), a national organization launched by West Health Institute and its partners.
The Geisinger at Home program was exclusively using in-person visits with physicians traveling to patient homes. The Geisinger team quickly realized it could serve more patients, and serve them better, by also using telehealth technologies. Nurses and community health assistants now visit patients in their homes and coordinate social services and health care while physicians care for patients remotely. As a result, Geisinger achieved a four-fold increase in monthly in-home patient visits while simultaneously lowering the burden and cost of health care costs for older adults with difficult-to-manage health conditions.
“Digital technologies, and particularly our telehealth platform, provides an added level of accessibility for older adults and will be key to how we continue to care for our patient population,” said David A. Fletcher, associate vice president at the Center for Telehealth at Geisinger. “We hope other organizations around the country will not only adopt telehealth for older adult patients, but also ensure they’re adhering to the best practices set forth by CE4TA.”
With the inclusion of telemedicine in its services, Geisinger at Home has reduced emergency room and hospital admissions by 30% and seen an average annual reduction in costs of $8,000 per patient. A patient survey found near-universal approval of the program, with 97% of respondents saying they were “very satisfied” and 3% saying they were “satisfied.”
The Geisinger service area meets the criteria of a federally designated Medically Underserved Area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. In addition to being largely rural, 18% of the Geisinger service area is 65 years old or older, which is 4% higher than the U.S. average. The average household income is $60,378, 15.3% lower than the U.S. average, and 13.1% of the population has a household income of less than $15,000.
“By demonstrating the efficacy and practical application of CE4TA’s core telehealth principles in a medically underserved population, Geisinger has improved access to care and lowered costs, all while keeping health equity priorities front and center,” said Liane Wardlow, Ph.D., senior director of clinical research and telehealth at West Health. “West Health applauds Geisinger and its telehealth initiative, which stands out nationally as an example of how to leverage remote care successfully for older adults.”
The Age-Inclusive Telehealth Innovative Practice Award is presented by the Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging. The center is a partnership of West Health Institute, the University of Virginia Department of Geriatrics and the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center. Together they promote three principles for delivering telehealth to older adults: equitable and accessible, person-centered, and integrated and coordinated.
“The Geisinger team is a worthy recipient of the inaugural Age-Inclusive Telehealth Innovative Practice Award,” said Laurie Archbald-Pannone, M.D., MPH, associate professor of geriatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, which helped to launch the Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging. “As a geriatric physician myself, I see the access challenges that many of our older adult patients face, especially those living in rural areas. Through its program, Geisinger was able to document how it improved the health of its participants with an approach that could be replicated by other companies and organizations that care for older adults.”
Organizations can show their commitment to the principles of age-inclusive telehealth by adding their name to the Pledge of Support page at ce4ta.matrc.org.
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at geisinger.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
About The Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging
West Health Institute (WHI), the University of Virginia (UVA) Department of Geriatrics and the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) partnered to create the Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging (CE4TA). CE4TA was established to advance the adoption of age-inclusive telehealth. It is a unique platform to foster a national discussion and movement to advance age-inclusive telehealth for older adults. CE4TA’s mission is to provide an open learning community that supports providers and organizations in delivering high-quality and effective care to older adults that accounts for their unique needs and supports their ability to age in place and live with dignity.