Study: 'Virtual' team care approach yields less ER visits for sick elderly

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When elderly patients with chronic diseases receive "virtual" care from a team of medical experts, they make fewer trips to the emergency room than patients who do not receive this team care approach, a new study finds.

"Virtual" care involves experts who are linked via phone, fax and e-mail, according to the study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The study was presented at the American Geriatrics Society's Annual Scientific Meeting on Friday.

Researchers followed higher risk diabetic patients over the course of two years and found that patients in the "Virtual Integrated Practice" program made fewer trips to the ER than those not in the program. The patients also reported better understanding of how to use their medications than those getting standard care. Physicians in the virtual teams reported that they were better informed of their patients' conditions between visits than those who were not part of virtual teams.

For more information about the Virtual Integrated Practice project at Rush, visit: www.rush.edu/professionals/vip.
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