Easing the journey from hospital to home

Chronic care management requires daily readings, and mHealth tools are essential
By Diana Manos
03:03 PM

People living with chronic conditions usually have their health data collected in the physician’s office every few months – and quite often, only at that time. This type of episodic care doesn't help either the doctor or the patient in between those visits.

True chronic care management requires daily readings, said Scott Flacks, COO of Ideal Life, a Toronto-based provider of customizable wireless health management monitors. This prevents downward trends in health and hospital visits, bringing down the cost of healthcare.

Flacks will be taking part in a symposium on Sunday and Monday, Dec. 6-7, at the mHealth Summit. The two-day symposium, titled "Technology Advancements in the Intelligent Medical Home: From the Leaders Perspective," will include discussion of pilot and development projects related to mobile devices, apps, wearables, ambient sensing and remote monitoring technologies.

A recent study conducted by the University of California Department of Medicine, involving 1,500 patients, found that remote monitoring and telephone-based nurse coaching intervention reduced hospital readmissions among patients with heart failure. The two-year study, which ended this March (the results having been made public yet), made use of Ideal Life’s monitors.

According to Flacks, the study used randomized cases to evaluate care transition intervention that included pre-discharge education about heart failure and post-discharge telephone nurse coaching, along with home telemonitoring of weight, blood pressure and heart rate. It's being billed as one of the largest randomized controlled trials of telemonitoring in patients with heart failure, and the first to combine the care transition approach with remote telemonitoring.

“The study will be a rich resource of information on how best to use remote technology in the care management of patients with chronic heart failure,” researchers have said.

A separate study, at the Vidant Health system in North Carolina and involving 700 cardiac patients using biometrics and Ideal Life monitors, found that telemonitoring decreased bed days, admissions and costs by 66 percent, with an estimated savings of  $4.4 million.

It's one thing for a physician to ask a patient how he or she is feeling at home, Flacks pointed out; the conversation is enhanced considerably when that physician can see, on a daily basis, the patient's biometric information.

“Giving doctors daily readings can’t do anything but help,” he said.

Telemedicine and telemonitoring are “the healthcare of the future,” Flacks said. “In the end, it’s all about keeping the patient healthy and out of the hospital.”

Telemedicine is still an evolving part of the healthcare landscape, Flacks said, with sometimes confusing definitions of mHealth, telehealth, telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. But the bottom line is the same: “We must always remember that there is a real person – the patient – on the other end, one who may be unable or afraid to seek help.”

“These solutions help to connect the disconnected," Flacks concluded, "and that is a priceless ROI to patients and family members.”

The mHealth Summit 2014 runs from Dec. 7-11 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside Washington, D.C. Register here.

This story originally appeared on Healthcare IT News sister site mHealth News.
Mobile, Telehealth