A new study from Pennsylvania hospital system Geisinger Health Plan shows that remote monitoring of congestive heart failure patients can reduce readmissions by 38 to 44 percent and produce a return on investment of $3.30 on the dollar.
The long-term study of 541 patients began in 2008 and just concluded in 2012. Patients used a Bluetooth-connected weight scale from AMC Health that also included interactive voice surveys about shortness of breath, swelling, appetite and prescription medication management, designed to detect acute events before they happen. Weight data and survey answers were transmitted in near-realtime to the patients’ care team, allowing them to respond to warning signs in a timely manner.
The key policy take-away is that these patients were members of Geisinger’s Medicare Advantage plan, which frees both patients and providers from Medicare’s bizarre, Soviet-style, price-fixing schedules. It would be very challenging to execute this innovation in the traditional Medicare program, because only very few types of facilities can claim reimbursement for telehealth.