For nearly two decades, since the Institute of Medicine published its 1999 report, “To Err is Human,” healthcare leaders worldwide have been intensely focused on improving clinical outcomes and reducing costs. The early work centered on advanced performance improvement initiatives such as Lean and Six Sigma, then moved to standardized processes in the form of PDSA and TeamSTEPPS. But for all the work and all the effort, very little has changed since 1999 – at least, until recently.
Finally, telemonitoring – or remote patient monitoring – is getting its due. What we at Advanced TeleHealth Solutions have believed since our inception in 2011 – that telemonitoring just might be the panacea healthcare has been searching for – the rest of the healthcare world is just now discovering.
Why has it taken so long? Healthcare is rooted in evidence-based improvement, and until numerous studies are published to provided credible evidence for any technology, care pathway, or protocol, the ability to build a cadre of champions is nearly impossible. Happily, several studies conducted in recent years have provided mounting evidence as to the impact telemonitoring can have on reducing costs and improving outcomes.
Here are just two such studies that provide compelling evidence for the deployment of telemonitoring.
Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials in Heart Failure
The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of remote patient monitoring when compared with the usual care approach based upon differences in the number of hospitalizations. The researchers reviewed the literature published between January 2000 and September 2009 on multidisciplinary heart failure management, either by usual care or remote patient monitoring, to identify the number of hospitalizations for heart failure patients. The meta-analysis included 21 randomized clinical trials and 5,715 patients.
What the researchers discovered was that telemonitoring was associated with a significantly lower number of hospitalizations for heart failure. What’s more, telemonitoring patients cost less, to the tune of $350 to $1,100 per patient, than patients who were managed by traditional protocols. The researchers also discovered that these patients had an increase in their quality-adjusted life years.
“These cost savings, combined with a quality-adjusted life years gain,” the researchers wrote, “suggest that remote patient monitoring is a dominant technology over existing standard care. In a budget impact analysis, the adoption of a remote patient monitoring strategy entailed a progressive and linear increase in costs saved.”
A Health Plan’s Experience in Managing Patients with Heart Failure
Since 2008, the Geisinger Health Plan (GHP) has offered a telemonitoring program for its members with heart failure. GHP conducted a study to assess the impact of telemonitoring by examining claims data of GHP Medicare Advantage plan members who were enrolled in the program. The study measured the impact of telemonitoring in terms of all-cause hospital admission rates, readmission rates, and total cost of care. The results of the study indicated significant reductions in probability of all-cause admission 30-day and 90-day readmission, as well as the cost of care. GHP estimated that the return on investment of the telemonitoring program was in excess of 300%.
In case you think that is a misprint, let me state it a different way: GHP estimates the ROI of its telemonitoring program is 3.3 – 330% — meaning that for every dollar spent on telemonitoring, $3.30 in patient care costs were saved. Geisinger’s study found that its telemonitoring program translated into approximately 11% cost savings for its heart failure members.
Are You a Believer?
These and other studies are elevating the conversation about telemonitoring’s role on improving healthcare. If you are interested in taking this conversation to the next level – whether it is specifically about how to manage your own heart failure patients with telemonitoring – then we would like to have that conversation with you. Advanced TeleHealth solutions not only offers a ready-to-deploy CHF telemonitoring program, but also offers similar programs for patients with COPD, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Just call us at 888.812.0888 or click here to connect with us.
About Karen Thomas
Karen Thomas is a certified management accountant and the president of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions, one of the leading telehealth monitoring companies in the U.S. Karen is a nationally renowned speaker, a lecturer for Missouri State University’s graduate-level Health Care Administration program, and a contributing author to, “Home Telehealth: Connecting Care Within the Community,” published by Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd. Karen has appeared on numerous webinars and has spoken at dozens of conferences on the benefits of remote patient monitoring, generating enhanced clinical outcomes, patient engagement, and coordination of care. She is a member of the Missouri Governors Innovation Task Force, a past board member of the National Association for Home Care and Private Duty Home Care Association, a member of the American Telemedicine Association and the American Society on Aging, and a past ex-officio member of the advisory board of HealthCare Technology Association of America.