Telehealth to Reach 1.8 Million Patients by 2017; Diabetes Cases in Majority

Telehealth could reach as many as 1.8 million patients worldwide by 2017, as more and more healthcare organizations use it as a means toward reducing readmission rates and tracking disease progression, according to a report from InMedica, a division of IMS Research.

Studies show that an estimated 308,000 patients were remotely monitored by their healthcare provider for congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension and mental health conditions worldwide in 2012. The majority of these patients were post-acute patients who had been hospitalized and discharged.

Telehealth has also been used to monitor ambulatory patients — those diagnosed with a disease at an ambulatory care facility but not hospitalized. But almost twice as many post-acute patients (140,000) than ambulatory care patients (80,000) were estimated to have been remotely monitored in the United States in 2012, given that the majority of ambulatory care patients are only considered for home monitoring following hospital discharge to prevent readmission.

Other key findings from the report include the following:

  • CHF currently accounts for the majority of telehealth patients; in addition to being one of the highest cost burdens for hospitalization, the clinical outcomes of telehealth for CHF patients are most established.
  • The number of telehealth patients with COPD is also projected to increase as telehealth continues to expand to respiratory diseases.
  • By 2017, diabetes is forecast to account for the second largest share of telehealth patients, overtaking COPD. Home monitoring of glucose levels for diabetes patients is more established through personal glucose monitors. There is an increasing drive to integrate these monitors with telehealth systems, allowing caregivers access to patient glucose data.

The report also cites four main drivers of telehealth demand over the next five years, including:

  • Federal-driven demand: Readmission penalties introduced by CMS are driving providers to adopt telehealth as a means of reducing readmission penalties. It is also considered a cost-saving measure.
  • Provider-driven demand: Patient engagement and care is prompting many healthcare providers to increase their use telehealth.
  • Payor-driven demand: Telehealth is being increasingly used by insurance providers to reduce their inpatient payments and increase their competitiveness by working directly with telehealth suppliers to monitor their patient base.
  • Patient-driven demand:Patient-driven demand is mostly limited to rural/non-metropolitan areas where there is a poor availability of clinics and physicians. But as fitness awareness increases and consumers adopt personal devices to track their fitness, they will also increasingly seek professional devices to remotely track disease state.

Source: InMedica, January 20, 2013

Telemedicine Technologies: Information Technologies in Medicine and Telehealth

Telemedicine Technologies: Information Technologies in Medicine and Telehealth focuses on how medical information can be reliably transmitted through wireless communication networks. It explains how they can be optimized to carry medical information in various situations by utilizing readily available traditional wireless local area network (WLAN) and broadband wireless access (BWA) systems.

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