Read any of the headlines on America’s prison system today and you will find a common theme. It’s expensive to maintain. Incarcerating people is often necessary to protect society, but it does come at a steep financial cost. We all know the system is expensive, but I doubt many of us know exactly where the money goes. You may be surprised to know that up to 30% of the cost is related to providing healthcare to inmates.
“Typically 9 to 30 percent of corrections costs go to inmate health care. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars nationally…” -The Urban Institute
One of the reasons that care is so expensive is that in the United States, we treat our prisoners rather well, and as such, are required to provide them with medical care comparable to that which they would receive if they were not incarcerated. Most times this means transporting them off site to receive healthcare evaluations and services, and providing transportation to and these appointments can really add up.
“In Washington, D.C., for example, inmate medical services in its jail cost about $33 million in 2012, a quarter of its corrections budget. This does not include the cost of sending corrections officers to guard prisoners who receive medical treatment outside the jail.” -The Urban Institute
The cost of sending corrections officers to guard inmates at these appointments should not be minimized or overlooked.
“The cost of guarding inmates transported to medical care outside of prison is approximately $2,000 per inmate per 24 hours. Even for part of a day, the costs associated with transporting an inmate to care can be substantial.” –The Urban Institute
The system is not only very inefficient but it also potentially puts the public safety at risk by removing prisoners from the facilities designed to contain them and instead putting them on the road with armed guards where an escape attempt may be more likely.
So how do we responsibly decrease the cost of care and reduce travel to and from off-site healthcare facilities while still providing humane and comparable care to those in prison?
It seems that Telemedicine may in fact be the answer.
According to The Urban Institute’s report on this subject, “Telemedicine also can reduce costs where demand for a medical specialty does not justify specialized doctors to be available on regular schedules inside the jail. It is especially useful for some specialties, such as radiology, dermatology, and psychiatry.”
Telemedicine creates great efficiencies in providing care that reduce costs anywhere from $200-$1000 per inmate. Not only does cost of care go down, but the quality of care potentially increases, as “telemedicine expands the pool of medical specialists who can be used, as some doctors may be reluctant to practice in a correctional setting.” Better care for less? That sounds like an upside for both the correctional facility and the inmate.
So if your correctional facility would like to save money on providing care and time on transporting inmates to medical appointments all the while increasing public safety and the quality of care, you should be exploring implementing a telemedicine system at your facility. The start-up costs are mainly related to purchasing the appropriate audio video hardware, so from a technology cost perspective, the hurdles are lower than they have ever been and a great technology partner is never more than a phone call away.
Do you want to put your healthcare costs on lockdown? Telemedicine is the answer.
Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.
About Jim Colquhoun
Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at email@example.com