Monday, November 19, 2007

Telehealth's Impact on Disease Management

AdvaMed, an advocacy group of medical device manufacturers, diagnostic product firms, and healthcare information technology providers, recently released a report developed by the Center for Telehealth at the Medical College of Georgia. Key report findings follow.

The report, which is based on a review of published studies on telehomecare and remote monitoring, as well as several current case studies, focused primarily on how these technologies have impacted the care of patients with diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Among the findings in the report:

● A study of 281 congestive heart failure patients who received telehomecare found that they experienced a 60 percent reduction in hospital admissions, a 66 percent decline in emergency room visits and a 59 percent reduction in pharmacy utilization. In contrast, the control group experienced increases in all of these areas.

● When patients with severe respiratory illness requiring long-term oxygen therapy were remotely-monitored, hospital admissions decreased by 50 percent, acute clinical problems decreased 55 percent and hospitalization costs went down by 17 percent.

● A study of 400 diabetes patients found that those monitored by in-home glucose meters and video conferencing showed significantly greater improvement in reducing average blood sugar levels than those who did not receive such monitoring.

These are impressive results, to be sure. Additional studies of the use of telehealth with such at risk patients are clearly warranted, if the reimbursement case is to be made.

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