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Continuous monitoring tools and Telehealth could save hospitals significant cost

Harvard researchers predict that contact-free continuous monitoring platforms have the potential to save the healthcare industry as much as $15 billion.  By Jeff Lagasse, August 04, 2016

Contact-free continuous monitoring, a platform that taps into sensors to measure patients vital signs and other metrics, hold the promise to save health systems $15 billion a year.

That’s according to a new peer-reviewed paper published in Critical Care Medicine.

CFCM is used to monitor heartbeat, respiratory rate, ulcers and patient motion. The technology’s components include sensors placed under a patient’s mattress or in a chair, bedside monitor, central display station and in handheld devices.

The sensors measure vibration and calculate motion, heartbeats per minute and breaths per minute, which detect any changes from regular patterns. If a patient’s status changes, the platform alerts nurses through large screens set up in conspicuous locations, as well as handheld devices.

Researchers from Harvard School of Medicine in a new Frost and Sullivan report entitled “Finding Top-Line Opportunities in a Bottom-Line Healthcare Market” claimed each hospital bed monitored with the EarlySense CFCM approach enables hospitals to achieve a cost savings nearing $20,000.

The cost savings are attributed to clinical outcome improvements published by hospitals implementing CFCM. Evidence suggests the technology can assist clinicians in earlier detection of patient deterioration, helping to reduce patient length of stay, minimize use of intensive care units, reduce falls and pressure ulcers and avoid cardiac and respiratory arrests.

The $15 billion figure was arrived at by extending the savings to all 750,000 relevant beds in the U.S. hospital system. The estimate does not take into account those patients in beds outside the hospital setting.

Clinical data also estimates that use of EarlySense has the annual potential to reduce patient falls by 301,809; reduce pressure ulcers by over 1 million; slash ICU days by about 1.7 million; eliminate more than 259,000 “Code Blue” events; and avoid close to 208,000 deaths.

“The healthcare industry is constantly working to improve efficiency,” said Charlie Whelan, Frost and Sullivan’s Transformational Health North America consulting director, in a statement. “These studies show that continuous monitoring presents a unique opportunity to create both top and bottom line benefits, while simultaneously improving quality of care.”

CEO Spotlight: American Well’s Roy Schoenberg on the U.S. coming out of a 10-year telehealth war zone

By Bill Siwicki, August 05, 2016

As providers, payers and patients align in what Schoenberg calls a national play for delivering real-time care anywhere patients and providers can connect, telemedicine stands ready to revolutionize healthcare the way Amazon has rewritten retail.

After a long decade of struggle, the stars have aligned for telemedicine, according to Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO and co-founder of telehealth technology and services vendor American Well. And the understanding and acceptance of providers, payers and patients have united to the point where the electronic delivery of healthcare is poised to become part of the norm.

“First, medical authorities, policymakers, and healthcare’s movers and shakers have acknowledged that delivering healthcare through technology can be valuable and safe; that has been the war zone for the last 10 years of telehealth,” Schoenberg said. “Medical boards and medical associations were hesitant about embracing telehealth; physicians were concerned about diminishing the relationship they have with patients. But the experiences with telehealth during the last couple of years have been reassuring, and telehealth increasingly has become one of the ways physicians interact with patients.”

Second, insurance companies that while label American Well technology including Anthem, United Health Group and several of the big Blues have finally begun to take the stance that, like in any other industry, digital mechanisms are here to stay and will be a major part of the industry’s future; as a result, payers are getting on top of telehealth and discovering how to conduct such care safely, Schoenberg said.

“Payers are understanding that the efficiencies and even the humanitarian value of allowing healthcare to be delivered in this manner are overwhelming,” he added. “If you can shift healthcare via the internet to more private home care settings, for example, you not only are saving costs of emergency room visits and inpatient stays, you are changing how and when appropriate healthcare can be rendered. Telehealth, for instance, can have a very deep impact on how chronic patients are managed.”

And third, enough time has passed that telemedicine technology vendors have gained the experience – and learned lessons from mistakes – so that the vendors are completely capable of providing safe and comprehensive care via technology, Schoenberg said.

“Vendors have made corrections to the patient experience and physician usability, for example, and have learned how to foster intimacy in these kinds of healthcare encounters,” he explained. “Between the adoption of electronic delivery as a valid way of doing medicine, the payment structure, and all of the factors that affect the physician-patient experience, the stars have aligned to cause what we see today, which is a booming market.”

What’s more, telemedicine tools and practices are becoming more embedded into the routine delivery of care among providers that also white label American Well services such as Cleveland Clinic, Community Health System,  Intermountain, Miami Children’s Hospital, Providence Health System and others — even employers are getting into the act, such as clients Oracle and Honeywell.

So what are the next steps? Schoenberg points in two directions.

“From the patient standpoint, we will see very quickly the transition of telehealth from just the myopic quick urgent care example of finding a physician to prescribe antibiotics to something that envelops all of healthcare, especially patients who need serious longitudinal care and frequent interaction with physicians, which increasingly is tied into things like accountable care organizations,” Schoenberg said. “We will see telehealth serving as a part of the overall relationship with patients.”

Schoenberg said American Well today is seeing provider organization clients developing telehealth programs around things like heart disease and autism, and that this sort of care will become the prevailing way healthcare executives and providers think of telehealth.

“No longer just the mother with a child in a stormy night who needs to see a physician kind of stuff,” he added. “Telehealth for ongoing clinical relationships will become the avalanche of this technology.”

On the other end of the spectrum, at the national level, Schoenberg said another next step in the evolution of telemedicine will be the realization of benefits derived from the notion that healthcare can be extended through technology so that patients are no longer married to a facility.

“If we bring together organizations that represent demand for healthcare and allow them to electronically interact with care delivery organizations, then that will not be unlike what online retail has done to the retail industry – we will be able to expand on how healthcare is being rendered and where it is being made available,” Schoenberg concluded. “This is a national play for the delivery of real-time healthcare that is embraced by the provider and the payer brands that will be available wherever the internet goes. That is how Amazon has rewritten the retail industry.”

August 5, 2016 / Posted by / Continuous monitoring tools and Telehealth could save hospitals significant cost