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An experiment in the late 1990s and an independent evaluation of the experiment determined that providing long-distance health care to inmates is feasible through a system called telemedicine. Telemedicine uses telecommunications equipment that allows health care providers to see and diagnose inmates in prisons located far from health care providers’...
An experiment in the late 1990s and an independent evaluation of the experiment determined that providing long-distance health care to inmates is feasible through a system called telemedicine. Telemedicine uses telecommunications equipment that allows health care providers to see and diagnose inmates in prisons located far from health care providers’ offices. The experiment showed that prisons could improve inmate health care by providing remote access to more medical specialists while reducing prisoner transport costs and related security management costs. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice; and the U.S. Department of Defense cooperated in the experiment. Several Federal prisons with different missions and security levels were connected via a telemedicine network. One of the Federal prisons was a medical center. A Veterans’ Administration hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, was also part of the network. An independent evaluation of the experiment showed that telemedicine could play an important role in delivering quality health care in correctional systems. The costs and benefits vary according to the type and nature of institution requirements, but the costs of telemedicine equipment are continuing to decline. The success of the telemedicine demonstration project led to the decision to use the information from that study to develop a manual on implementing correctional telemedicine. The information in this manual can be used by correctional administrators who are evaluating whether telemedicine is an acceptable approach to providing medical care in their facility. This report provides a model for estimating the relative costs of telemedicine—the provision of health care over a distance using telecommunications technology—under varying conditions in a correctional setting. With the information tools provided in this document, the correctional administrator will be able to determine if telemedicine is a cost-effective option. Information in this report is based on a study of the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine in a correctional system.
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