By now, anyone in healthcare understands the benefits of remote patient monitoring – also called telehealth. Remote patient monitoring programs are vital to achieving the “triple aim” of healthcare, which is to improve patient outcomes, access to care, and the cost-effectiveness of the services provided.
Telehealth technology can collect and monitor a wide range of data, including, for example, vital signs, blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and blood oxygen levels. This data can then be used to detect changes in a patient’s health status before a visit to the E.R. – and potential hospitalization – is necessary.
Certainly, telehealth is not going away. In fact, just the opposite is true, as it is continuing to gain acceptance and adoption by healthcare providers, payers, and employers. For instance, according to a just-released report from the National Business Group on Health, nine in 10 large employers, in states where telemedicine is legal, will make telehealth services available to their employees next year, up from seven in 10 this year.
That’s not all. According to independent medical market research firm Kalorama Information, the worldwide remote patient monitoring market – which includes devices, peripherals, software, packaged services, and other applications – is now worth about $31.4 billion, up from $29.7 billion a year ago. Kalorama’s study credits advances in wireless technology, coupled with cost savings for healthcare providers, as the major drivers behind this increase.
The growth in telehealth is not expected to subside anytime soon as new technology is being introduced to the market on a regular basis. For instance, new devices are being developed to monitor fetal heart rates, pacemakers, body temperature, and more. In addition, the United States’ wired and wireless infrastructure has improved to the point that major enhancements are being made in real-time audio and video services that support face-to-face interactions between clinicians and patients.
Full-service telehealth outsourcing is also on the rise, with clinical specialists evaluating remote patient monitoring data and sending information to the patient’s care team. While telehealth outsourcing is now catching on in a big way, Advanced TeleHealth Solutions has been providing this service for more than a decade – we were an early pioneer of the remote patient monitoring outsource model and offer a URAC-accredited health call center to providers, payers, and employers alike. Now, we are delighted that what we believed to be the answer to many of healthcare’s woes 10 years ago is now gaining rapid acceptance worldwide.
What’s driving this acceptance? In 2014, geriatrics in the U.S. numbered 46.2 million. By 2060, that number is expected to swell to 98 million. Telehealth is an important tool that will allow elderly patients to remain independent, which, in turn, will reduce the economic burden on themselves, healthcare providers, and payers. Statistics show that as the number of geriatrics rise, so do the number of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, ischemic diseases, hypertension, sleep apnea, and more – all which add to mounting healthcare costs, but all which can be controlled through remote patient monitoring.
Advances in remote patient monitoring will certainly drive improvements in health outcomes, and these advances can’t come soon enough.
About Karen Thomas
Karen Thomas is the President of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions. In 2004, she developed and secured funding for the first Medicaid-covered telemonitoring program within the Disease Management Department for the State of Missouri. Seeing the need that various industries had for cost-saving solutions that could provide improved health outcomes for patients, she began Advanced TeleHealth Solutions in 2011. Thomas is an expert on diabetes telehealth programs and a nationally renowned speaker, using her expertise in telehealth monitoring to educate hospitals, home health agencies, and other companies and organizations about the benefits of telemedicine solutions.