This project will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of primary care and speciality clinics to the prison inmate population in Massachusetts using basic telemedicine technology in a network involving an urban academic medical center, a suburban community hospital and two state correctional facilities. The anticipated primary outcomes are decreased morbidity among inmates, decreased hospitalizations, increased physician-patient interaction, and overall decreased costs for correctional healthcare and ongoing education. Secondary anticipated outcomes are increased satisfaction among inmates, correctional medical staff, and non-medical correctional staff concerning inmate care and continuing education of all groups. The project aims to examine the feasibility of adapting the new generation of lower-priced, videoconferencing tools to clinical telemedicine. The units are designed to be used with a conventional television monitor.
As more people are incarcerated for longer periods of time, prisons are being confronted with rising health care costs. Prisons are increasingly faced with caring for inmates with costly chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease. In fact, health care cost for this population rose 91 percent in the first half of this decade. The cost of health care, and the cost of providing medical guards for transporting prisoners to and from medical centers, has become a major burden on the prison system. This project will demonstrate a more cost-effective means of providing care to inmates. Specifically, this project will be evaluating a lower price codec unit over rollabout systems frequently used in these settings.
Lemuel Shattuck Hospital (LSH) will act as the hub site for the telemedicine network. Plymouth County Correctional Facility (PCCF) and Sousa Baranousky HOC (SBHOC) will be hosting the pilot telemedicine clinics and provide patients for those clinics. NCCI Gardner will provide inmates for the telemedicine clinics in addition to PCCF and SBHOC during the prospective phase of the study. Other partners include Suffolk County Correctional Facilities, South Eastern Correctional Center and Bridgewater State Hospital Campus.