Tackling chronic illness in Southeast U.S.

Intel-GE Care Innovations, University of Mississippi Medical Center to extend remote care
By Bernie Monegain
04:37 PM
University of Mississippi Medical Center

Intel-GE Care Innovations, a pioneer in connecting the care continuum to the home, has announced it would extend its collaboration with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to bring a new model of care to thousands of chronically ill and underserved people across the Southeastern United States.

Through a five-year contract, Care Innovations will provide UMMC with remote care management solutions through its Health Harmony platform as well as data analytics and application integration services.

The new agreement builds on a statewide population health program, the Diabetes Telehealth Network, involving both Care Innovations and UMMC's Center for Telehealth. Early results indicate the program has improved the health and lowered the cost of care for participants, who live in the Mississippi Delta.

The program will cater to a wide population of patients suffering from chronic conditions that are often managed ineffectively and lead to preventable hospital admissions and emergency room use. The chronic conditions will include congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and hypertension.

Care Innovations simplifies implementing and deploying remote care management by providing a one-stop shop for remote patient management technologies, customized program development consulting and intuitive and easy-to-use technology for the clinician, patient and family caregiver, company executives say.

[See also: GE and Intel's 'Care Innovations' goes live.]

The patient management platform, called Health Harmony, removes the complexity of remote care management by encouraging the patient to engage in their own health from home using consumer-friendly devices and peripherals, interactive education, and videoconferencing, they add. Vitals data are transmitted daily to clinicians via the platform, interactive health sessions generate qualitative data points typical of those collected during an in-office visit, and algorithms monitor changes in existing patterns and alert clinicians to potential issues to be addressed.

 "Half the state of Mississippi suffers from two or more chronic conditions, and we see so many of these patients come through our facilities on a daily basis," Kevin Cook, UMMC's CEO of University Hospitals and Health System, said in a news release. "We knew we needed to find a way to help these folks take control of their own health," he added. "By extending this program, we expect to save $189 million in Medicaid each year just with the diabetic population."

Cook said that after seeing the success derived through the diabetes program with Care Innovations and the improvement in quality of life it provided for those enrolled, UMMC is eager to extend the benefits to other chronically ill populations.

UMMC's goal is to enroll 1,000 patients each month both in and out of state by the end of the 2016. UMMC's decision to extend beyond state borders was driven by the runaway success of the initial program as well as persistent interest from other hospitals and health systems, employers, health plans and physician practice groups looking to employ similar remote management programs among their respective populations.

"Through our collaboration with UMMC, we have an unprecedented opportunity to address the serious health challenges Americans face today with a combination of technology, understanding of human behavior, and a different healthcare model," Sean Slovenski, CEO at Care Innovations, said in a press statement. "UMMC has proven that remote care management should be a standard part of the healthcare system because it can improve health, keep people unnecessarily out of the hospital, and save millions of dollars."

[See also: Diabetes pilot debuts in Mississippi and Telehealth works wonders in Mississippi.]

The results for the first phase of the remote care management program, which includes 100 Mississippians living with diabetes, have been strong. They include a 1.7 percent average A1C reduction, zero hospitalizations and ER visits, and a savings of $339,184 over 6 months. UMMC will initially expand the program to its three campuses and focus on people living with diabetes, heart failure, COPD, asthma and hypertension. Over the next year, UMMC expects to expand its workforce working in the remote care management program from 50 to 170. 

"Before we kicked off the diabetes program last year, we knew the results would be impactful for our patients, but we just didn't know it would be this impactful," Kristi Henderson, MD, chief telehealth and innovation officer at UMMC, said in a news release. "Because we started with a patient population facing the most difficult challenges, we are extremely confident we will continue to be successful as we expand the program to other chronic conditions and in working with other healthcare organizations outside of Mississippi."