As healthcare reform forces a reimbursement shift from the traditional fee-for-service model to the new pay-for-performance model, keeping people healthy will force healthcare providers to do things such as prevent hospital readmissions, or keep people from needing a hospital stay at all. And that will happen only if providers have some insight into what patients are doing at home.
The concept is that better chronic care management will keep costs down. If patients can manage their health better outside of the hospital, costly major medical episodes are less likely to occur. After all, Medicare will levy $227 million in penalties against hospitals in every state but one for the second round of the government’s campaign to reduce the number of patients readmitted within 30 days.
If you’ll remember, I blogged last month about how readmissions—while a cause for concern—are not as big a problem as many might think. While I genuinely believe that to be true, how to prevent readmissions is still a question that many hospitals still grapple with.
One answer might be in the form of remote patient monitoring (RPM)—a technology to enable monitoring of patients outside of conventional clinical settings—comes in. RPM is a critical piece in increasing access to care and decreasing healthcare delivery costs, and recently, many efforts have been made by healthcare systems to turn to this burgeoning technology.
For one, a new 24/7 remote monitoring system from the Mayo Clinic will improve care and shorten hospital stays for critically ill patients, according to Mayo officials. The Enhanced Critical Care program will offer monitoring of the sickest patients at six Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals in Austin, Albert Lea, Fairmont and Mankato, Minn.; and Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wis.
"It's like having an extra set of eyes on every patient," Dany Abou Abdallah, M.D., a pulmonologist and director of the critical care unit in Eau Claire, said. "With this program, operations center nurses and physicians continuously review patients' vital signs and other data. The minute they notice a potential problem, they can alert the local care team.”
The Center for Connected Health (CCH) in Boston and the Oakland, Calif.-based Center for Technology and Aging (CTA) have also collaborated on the development of a tool for analyzing the return on investment (ROI) for RPM technologies, enabling healthcare providers to evaluate the financial benefit of these technologies for patients with chronic heart disease.
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