Remote Patient Monitoring
Monitoring programs collect important patient data, such as vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and electrocardiograms. This data is then transmitted to health professionals in facilities such as monitoring centers in hospitals and intensive care units, skilled nursing facilities, and centralized off-site case management programs. The health professionals monitor these patients remotely and, when necessary, implement medical services on their behalf.
Monitoring programs help keep patients healthy, allow elderly and disabled patients to live at home and avoid having to move into skilled nursing facilities, and reduce both the number of hospitalizations and lengths of stay in hospitals—all of which help improve quality of life for patients and contain costs.
Monitoring programs are tools to help achieve the “triple aim” of health care, by improving patient outcomes outcomes and access to care, and to make the state’s health care system more cost effective.
- A 2002 study examined a Veterans Health Administration demonstration project, which featured home monitoring systems and targeted veterans with chronic conditions who were high users of costly medical services. The study compared enrollees’ actual use of medical services to their projected usage if they had not taken part in the program, and also compared their actual use to veterans who were not enrolled in the program. The study found a 40% reduction in emergency room visits, a 63% reduction in hospital admissions, a 60% reduction in hospital bed days of care, a 64% reduction in VHA nursing home admissions, and an 88% reduction in nursing home bed days of care. A 2005 follow-up study on the same program, which examined enrollees with chronic heart failure, found dramatic improvements in key health indicators, hospitalization rates, and use of important heart drugs.
- A 2006 study examined Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes who enrolled in a disease management program, and compared them to beneficiaries who received conventional care. The program included live video counseling sessions and email discussions with nurse case managers, home monitoring of vital signs, with results automatically uploaded to electronic medical records, and patient education Web sites in English and Spanish. The study found that program enrollees reduced their blood sugar levels substantially below those of non-enrollees. Managing blood sugar levels as been found to prevent or substantively reduce the incidence of diabetes-related damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.