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TECHNOLOGY: Forrester ‘s “Healthcare Unbound” gets some backing from NEHI

Brad Holmes at Forrester Research has a brief out looking at what they are calling Healthcare Unbound. Don’t get too worked up about the title–it’s the same thing as mobile eHealth (I think!). They think that this could be a $34 billion market in 10 years time. You can tell that Forrester’s a newcomer in forecasting. They break the number 1 rule by putting a number and a date in the same sentence, and $34 billion is a very precise number!

However, the concept that as Brad says “Some of the IT essential to the success of technology in, on, and around the body that frees care from formal institutions is now ready for prime time” is probably correct. Health Hero’s Health Buddy has been around for about 7-8 years now, but is still making steady progress. Meanwhile, my old boss Wendy Everett’s shop, the New England Health Initiative, is out with a study showing that remote heart monitoring is cost-effective and saving lives today. Here’s the key part of the summary:

Remote physiological monitoring (RPM) consists of an electronic device in the patient’s home that collects data on the patient’s condition, technology that enables transmission and analysis of those data, and most importantly a care delivery service that uses those data to communicate with and monitor the patient. It is the coordination of these three elements — the device, technology and care delivery service — that is essential to this innovative tool for disease management. Patients typically use electronic home monitoring devices once a day to collect basic physiological data and to answer specific questions about their condition. The patients’ data are electronically transmitted to a central monitoring station where the data are analyzed by nurses and care managers. These care managers can track early warning signs and symptoms and contact patients, providing feedback, education and medication changes long before they need to be hospitalized.

Reduced Hospitalizations and Costs

NEHI’s analysis found that using RPM for heart failure reduces rehospitalization rates by 32 percent, compared to standard outpatient care for the six-months following a heart failure hospitalization. Applying this reduction to a population of 100 Class III, or advanced heart failure, patients results in an average of 24 fewer hospitalizations, each of which costs, on average $9,700 and involves 5.5 days in the hospital. That results in a total reduction of 132 patient days per 100 patients. In addition, RPM can produce net cost savings of 25 percent when compared to standard care. On a per patient basis, this cost reduction amounts to net savings of $1,861 per patient, or in our 100-patient group, a total of $186,165. RPM use also has demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in heart failure patients’ quality of life as measured in Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs), as well as high levels of patient satisfaction.

As with all these technologies, if they build it, they will come (so long as Medicare pays for it–which is where the NEHI’s paper comes in methinks). Whether CMS wants to have another $34 billion line item on its hands is another matter.

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