How Videoconferences are Helping People with Dementia

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerAugust 3, 2016

A new study has found that people with dementia are less likely to be prescribed anti-psychotics or be physically restrained when caregivers at a senior community were in regular communication via videoconference with a team of medical professionals at a hospital.

Learn more about this study and its conclusion that increased collaboration among medical professionals can increase the health and wellness of patients.

How Videoconferences Can Lead to Increase in Senior Patient Health

A recent study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Hebrew SeniorLife concluded that increased collaboration between medical professionals significantly reduced the use of antipsychotic medication and physical restraints among people with dementia.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, included 11 nursing homes throughout Maine and Massachusetts which lasted 18 months. Each nursing home participated in Project ECHO-AGE, a program run by Beth Israel researchers to work with patients as they transition from hospitals to community-based nursing homes. As part of the study, nursing home staff met biweekly with a hospital team of care professionals via videoconferences. Conferences included discussions about specific patients as well as general sessions on caring for people with dementia.

In a press release, Dr. Lewis Lipsitz, chief of gerontology division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center stated, “We found that nursing home facilities that participated in Project ECHO-AGE saw a significant reduction in the use of physical restraints and antipsychotic medication among patients with dementia. These significant reductions also imply a potential decrease in adverse events such as falls, fractures and hospitalizations. As a result, further study of ECHO-AGE is warranted for the continued improvement of geriatric care management and lower health care costs.”

Bringing Specialists Together for Senior Health and Wellness

Researchers found that:

People with dementia at facilities in the study were actually 75% less likely to be physically restrained during the duration of the study and 17% less likely to be prescribed antipsychotic medications, which can be harmful to people with dementia.

Dr. Stephen Gordon, a geriatrician in the gerontology division at Beth Israel Medical Center noted, “There is a two-pronged issue facing nursing homes in the United States: shortages of geriatricians, behavioral neurologists and geriatric psychiatrists and a lack of proximity of community nursing homes to larger medical facilities with specialists. Video conference technology can bring academic medical center specialists and nursing home staff together in a collaborative effort to care for patients with dementia.”

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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