How one health system saves $90,000 per patient

Pilot program taps home health monitoring to reduce hospitalization and length of stay rates
By Eric Wicklund
07:58 AM
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Young patient with smartphone

So many mobile, telehealth and remote monitoring technologies today are long on promise but short on proof – so it's worth taking stock when one pays off in a substantive fashion.

Consider the so-called Care Beyond Walls and Wires pilot program launched by Northern Arizona Healthcare. NAH in 2011 began placing home health monitoring kits with patients discharged from Flagstaff Medical Center or Verde Valley Medical Center following treatment for congestive heart failure or related cardiac conditions or related cardiac conditions.

"Putting smartphones and biometric health-monitoring devices in the hands of patients empowered them to take better control of their health," Gigi Sorenson, RN, NAH's director of telehealth services, said in a prepared statement. "We've tracked significantly fewer hospitalizations, shorter hospitalizations and dramatically lower costs." 

[Related: 18 health technologies poised for big growth.] 

NAH saw hospitalizations drop from 3.26 mean per patient to 1.82 and days hospitalized drop from 13.98 mean per patient to 5.13 and, based on the health system's data about the first 50 patients six months prior to enrollment and six months after enrollment, that added up to savings of approximately $92,000 per patient.

The home health kits are customized for each patient, built on Qualcomm Life's 2net connectivity platform and HealthyCircles care coordination software, and featuring an app loaded onto a smartphone and connected medical devices specific to the patient's condition.

Data captured by the devices is automatically uploaded through the 2net Hub or 2net Mobile to the HealthyCircles platform, where providers can set care management plans and communicate with patients. Those include medication reminders and alerts set to be triggered if the home health monitoring kit detects a patient's deteriorating health.

Based on the pilot's success in metrics and cost savings, NAH officials said they are planning to expand the program to patients with other cardiac problems as well as people with pulmonary issues and those needing post-operative care. 

This article originally appeared on Healthcare IT News sister site mHealth News.

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