Remote patient monitoring improves outcomes for chronically ill, study shows

By Bernie Monegain
10:02 AM

Remote patient monitoring technology enables healthcare providers to treat patients before their conditions becomes more acute, according to a new study from the Spyglass Consulting Group.

Remote patient monitoring solutions have demonstrated success for patients with congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

"Trends in Remote Patient Monitoring 2009" is a follow-up to the Spyglass Consulting Group's 2006 report on the same topic. Spyglass is based in Menlo Park, Calif.
According to the study, remote monitoring not only saves unnecessary trips to the emergency department but prevents re-admissions to the hospital.  An estimated 97 percent of healthcare organizations rely on remote patient monitoring to improve clinical outcomes for critically ill patients, the study says.

"Early adopters of remote patient monitoring solutions are capitated managed care organizations having fiscal responsibility for their patients across the continuum of care," said Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass. "These organizations include health maintenance organizations, integrated delivery systems, home health agencies, hospices, disease management companies and government agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs."
Among the key findings are:
• Forty-eight percent of healthcare organizations interviewed have funded home telehealth initiatives themselves.  A strong return on investment exists for healthcare delivery networks serving as  provider and payer, including such organizations as Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Administration.
• Convergence with consumer electronics products enables patients to use devices with which they are already  comfortable, including smart phones, personal computers and cable boxes. Prices for remote patient monitoring devices and associated peripherals need to drop from several thousand dollars to less than $500 per unit before healthcare organizations will make further investments to support their patients with other chronic diseases.
• Healthcare payers are resistant to providing reimbursement for remote patient monitoring despite evidence of their efficacy by the Veterans Administration, which has deployed more than 35,000 units. Healthcare payer reimbursement is focused on a healthcare delivery model ill-equipped to address the needs of an aging Baby Boomer population with chronic illness. Payers reward healthcare providers for the quantity of the procedures performed rather than the quality of care delivered.

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