Missouri Telehospice Project


George Demiris
Assistant professor of Health Informatics
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211, USA


This study aims to measure the impact of videophone technology on the quality of hospice services, caregiver burden, patient satisfaction and cost of care. The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of dying patients’ last days by offering comfort and dignity, focusing on palliation and the relief of suffering, individual control and autonomy. However, in many cases urban and rural patients approach end of life with limited or no access to hospice care.

Telemedicine, defined as the use of advanced telecommunication technologies to bridge geographic distance, has the potential to address some of the barriers to quality end of life care.

We propose a “telehospice” system based on the use of videophones that are portable, easy to use and can operate over regular phone lines as an enhancement tool for hospice care. We propose that patients in an intervention group receive traditional hospice care and additional “telehospice visits”, these will be compared to the traditional hospice patients that are not given the support of the videotechnology. The impact of the intervention on the following outcomes will be assessed: patient satisfaction, caregiver burden, crisis prevention rates and cost of care. Target sample size for the intervention group is 50 patients; another 50 patients will be assigned to a matched control group.