Posts Tagged ‘remote technology’

9 Remote Monitoring Technologies Enhance Telephonic Care Management

April 2nd, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

From home sensors that monitor daily motion and sleep abnormalities, to video visits using teleconferencing, Humana is doing its best to ensure that the frail elderly can remain at home as long as possible.

When integrated with a telephonic care management program, these remote monitoring technologies have helped Humana to avert medical emergencies and preventable hospitalizations among individuals with serious medical and functional challenges, says Gail Miller, vice president of telephonic clinical operations in Humana’s care management organization, Humana Cares/SeniorBridge. The pilots are part of a continuum of care aimed at improving health outcomes, increasing satisfaction and reducing overall healthcare costs with a more holistic approach.

Most Americans are living longer, and suffering fewer deaths from acute illness, Miller said in a recent Healthcare Intelligence Network webinar, Integrating Mobile Health Remote Patient Monitoring with Telephonic Care Management for Improved Care Coordination Results. But they are also developing more chronic illnesses and functional limitations, which are often the costliest to manage.

Despite their growing frailty, however, nine out of 10 Americans prefer to age at home, she continues. To help them live independently and age gracefully at home, Humana, which has over 30 years experience in the Medicare program, and over two and a half million Medicare advantage members, launched the Humana Chronic Care Program (HCCP). Targeting the members most in need, or the sickest 20 percent, which drive 75 percent of the company’s costs, the company implemented a series of nine healthcare remote monitoring pilots for individuals with congestive heart failure (CHF) and diabetes as well those with medication adherence problems. The pilots also target those with functional challenges that make activities of daily living (ADL) challenging.

“There is a clear need to look beyond disease and address functional limitations,” Miller says.

One of the pilots includes strategically placed home-based sensors that monitor ADL levels of those with functional impairment. Algorithms detect abnormalities in the patients’ activities, i.e. erratic sleeping behaviors or toileting patterns that can signal infections, which then generate alerts for recommended interventions.

Video visits include two way audio-video communications so that care managers can interact with their sickest members as an adjunct to home visits. Members are given tablets to use for face-to-face contact with their care manager, or to go over any educational materials their care managers or physician provides them.

Ranging from passive to active monitoring, all of the technologies are senior-friendly, and designed to help members manage their conditions, reduce hospitalizations and improve the patient/member experience, Miller says.

A mobile Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), for those that live alone or have limited caregiver support, has been the most popular, Miller says. Members are mailed a cellular device that can be activated manually by a button, or automatically via an accelerometer. Once turned on, the PERS device connects the member to clinically trained emergency support. Many patients have asked if they could extend their use of this particular device once the pilot was over, Miller says. She explains why:

Besides being a health issue, I think the device also speaks to the level of safety concerns that a lot of seniors who have multiple chronic conditions, and who live alone, have. They don’t want to necessarily reach out to their neighbors all the time. This provides them some peace of mind, which is the ultimate goal of the program.

Listen to an interview with Gail Miller of Humana Cares/SeniorBridge here.

What are your organization’s efforts in remote patient monitoring? Participate in our e-survey, 10 Questions on Remote Patient Monitoring, by April 22, 2014 and you will receive a free summary of survey results once it is compiled.

TTYL Craving: Texting Helps Smokers Kick Butts, Healthcare Costs

April 25th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

Remember the Marlboro Man, who filled black and white TV screens and magazine pages back in the day, always holding a cigarette in his calloused hands?

Initially designed to counter public opinion that filtered cigarettes were for women, he appeared to be the quintessential macho man, unafraid of anything, whether it was errant horses, lawless poachers, or even the front lines of war.

Not surprisingly, the Malboro Man got a makeover of sorts over the years; revealing that he was afraid of something, and that something was chemotherapy. It was one of California’s arsenal of ads they’ve been pummeling the public with for the last few decades. And they’re working; in a recent news story published here, the University of California SF reported that the state’s tobacco reform campaign, while costing California $2.4 billion since 1998, reduced healthcare costs by $134 billion, and reduced the sales of cigarette packs by 6.8 billion, amounting to a loss of $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.

Well, a new ad might appear on the sun-drenched horizon soon, featuring the older, wiser Marlboro Man holding a smart phone instead of a lasso, and reading one of many specially timed texts to help him quit smoking.

Agile Health recently announced Kick Buts 2.0, a major upgrade to their Kick Buts high touch, low cost smoking cessation program. Kick Buts delivers personalized text messages to smokers who need advice, support and encouragement as they try to quit smoking. It sends messages at scheduled intervals over a six-month period to help them develop the knowledge, motivation and behavioral skills necessary to drive sustained behavior change.

It also responds immediately to key words from participants requesting help to overcome cravings, slip-ups or relapse. So, someone can text “Craving” and they will receive a pep talk on how to ride the craving out.

It seems like a perfect way to hook the smokers who are already hooked on their smart phones — in particular, kids who’ve found their way to a cigarette despite the worldwide glut of anti-smoking campaigns. According to our recent survey on mHealth, smart phone apps are the most widely used technology tool today, with text messaging coming in a close second.

“These days I prescribe a lot more apps than medications,” says Dr. Eric Topol, who was profiled on Rock Center with Brian Williams recently, and is author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care. He points to the smartphone as a leading breakout tool, with the eventual ability to detect cancer cells circulating in the blood or warn patients of an imminent heart attack or monitor glucose levels through a sensor implanted in the body which, when activated, sends a signal to the patient’s smart phone.

“A ninety-year-old can leave the hospital and be monitored remotely like he’s still in the ER,” says Dr. Topol, and it is this kind of remote technology that could save the healthcare industry millions in prescription drugs and unnecessary tests.