By Christine Kern, contributing writer
A new Geisinger study suggests telemonitoring can reduce readmission rates and cost of care.
A Geisinger Health Plan study, scheduled for publication in December issue of Population Health Management, posits adopting a telemonitoring program can create significant reductions in all-cause admissions, 30- and 90-day readmissions, and overall cost of care with an estimated return on investment of 3.3.
The 70-month study was conducted by following 541 elderly patients with heart failure, all of whom were patients in the GHP Medicare Advantage plan. On average, participants engaged in the remote monitoring for approximately 24 out of the 70 months. Participants were at least 65 years of age with confirmed heart failure and also had a high prevalence of comorbid conditions including hypertension and coronary artery disease. The group on average incurred a per-patient month cost of care of approximately $1,600.
The program implemented the use of Advanced Monitored Caregiving Bluetooth scales with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to participants. The IVR system used a list of questions specially designed to detect changes in physical condition that could be used by case workers to identify patients heading towards acute events and provide the appropriate intervention to forestall them. Participants were required to have a landline or cellular phone to transmit data.
According to the study, the remote monitoring system improved the efficiency of care managers and delivered a 3.3 return on Geisinger's investment, and saved approximately $216 – or 11 percent per patient per month – between 2008 and 2012. The investment costs was determined as the sum of the cost of purchasing the Bluetooth scale and the cost of the automated calls to members.
According to a press release, the study showed the odds of a patient being admitted to the hospital in any given month were 23 percent lower during the months when they were enrolled in the telemonitoring program; their odds of 30-day and 90-day readmissions were reduced 44 percent and 38 percent respectively.