Study: Telehealth Cuts Readmissions, Costs for Heart Failure Patients

October 6, 2014 in News

Using telehealth devices to remotely monitor patients with congestive heart failure could help reduce hospital readmissions and cut costs, according to a study published in the journal Population Health Management, MobiHealthNews reports.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 541 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries from Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health Plan over a 70-month period between 2008 and 2012 (Comstock, MobiHealthNews, 10/3). The patients were provided with Bluetooth scales that included Interactive Voice Response technology to evaluate changes in weight and survey patients about their:

  • Appetite;
  • Medication adherence;
  • Shortness of breath; and
  • Swelling.

Patients’ case managers were informed in near-real time when scale readings or IVR responses fell outside a specified range (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 10/3).

The researchers compared claims data from the time patients were enrolled in the program with data collected during the first year of the study (MobiHealthNews, 10/3).

Study Findings

The study found that patients’ readmission risk for a given month during the study period was 23% lower than when they were not enrolled in the program (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 10/3). Specifically, readmissions after 30 days were 44% lower, while readmissions after 90 days were 38% lower (MobiHealthNews, 10/3).

In addition, researchers found that the program saved $3.30 for each dollar spent on implementation and reduced Geisinger’s health costs by about 11% — or $216 — per patient per month (FierceHealthIT, 10/3).

Comments

Doreen Salek, Geisinger’s director of Population Health Business Intelligence, said, “According to research from the American Heart Association, roughly 5.1 million Americans have heart failure, and approximately half of the patients who experience the disease die within five years of diagnosis. It is our hope that supplementing a strong case management program with telehealth solutions, as demonstrated in this study, can improve on those odds and ensure better outcomes for our aging population” (MobiHealthNews, 10/3).

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