Remote Monitoring Yields Healthier Patients

Featuring Ideal Life’s remote monitoring technologies.

As more healthcare providers deploy electronic medical records, they’re also looking to tie them into remote monitoring systems used by homebound, chronically ill patients. Now faster access to information generated via remote monitoring devices is reducing medical complications and hospitalizations, and improving quality of care, according to one in-home nursing service that’s using those devices.

The use of personal health devices will grow as more electronic health record systems incorporate and use that data. “Interfaces can be written for anything,” said Bayada’s Farber, including feeding the remote monitoring data into EHR systems. However many doctors don’t want one more flood of information to monitor, he said.

Bayada, which has 140 offices in 17 states and the United Kingdom, in the last year has rolled out wireless, Internet-connected remote monitoring devices from Idea Life to about 200 U.S. housebound patients with limited mobility and conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. During that time, hospitalizations of those patients have been reduced by 54%, said Brian Farber, director of telehealth at Bayada.

The remote monitoring system alerts Bayada’s nurses as soon as a medical problem crops up with a patient, letting the nurses respond fast. The system also sends alerts to patients’ doctors, allowing them to adjust medication quickly or otherwise intervene.  If a patient with congestive heart failure shows a gain of 3 pounds or more over 24 hours that could indicate a fluid retention, a dangerous condition for someone with that illness. The system sends an alert, and the nurse receiving it might schedule a home visit or notify the patient’s physician so medication can be adjusted or other treatment prescribed.

One obstacle to widespread use of remote monitoring is that insurers and other healthcare payers generally don’t reimburse providers like Bayada for remote monitoring services. However, that’s slowly changing, said Jason Goldberg, president and founder of Ideal Life.

Ideal Life recently announced its medical devices were part of a state-funded project in North Carolina to remotely monitor 400 rural Medicaid patients who have heart failure or cardiovascular disease. Some private healthcare companies, including CareMore, a health-maintenance organization in California, are paying for the remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases, Goldberg said. Increasingly, there are new incentives “to reward for preventative care, rather than just reactive models,” Goldberg said.

 


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