Well@Home

While most stories about remote monitoring focus on reduced admissions for chronically ill patients with co morbidities, here's one that highlights the impact on caregiver productivity.

The
technology has enabled Valley [Home Health and Hospice] to better allocate its resources so
nurses can work more efficiently, says Elaine Davis, telehealth manager.

"We have been able to decrease the amount of skilled nursing visits
because of the monitors," she adds. "If we front-load our skilled
nursing visits in the beginning we can cut down on them later and then
go as needed."

Valley is using a
home-monitoring system from Well at Home, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based
Patient Care Technologies Inc., that connect to other devices to record
patient blood pressure, weight, pulse and other vital signs. They then
send the data back to the Paramus, N.J.-based organization via a phone
line.

Though
home-monitoring systems stand to offer many administrative and patient
care benefits, their cost has prevented them from seeing widespread
deployment. The technology can run between $1,000 and $10,000,
rendering it too expensive for many home health agencies. Additionally,
Medicare and most insurance companies do not reimburse use of the
systems beyond 60 days, allowing for use only for episodic care.

Hmm, and why are payors responsible for reimbursing health care delivery organizations for technology to improve their productivity? This doesn't seem right (emphasis mine):

"The
technology is on the edge of a major breakthrough," Williams predicts.
"You can use it as a cost savings device because you can trim off a few
visits and save money. But until insurance companies start recognizing
it, it's hard to justify the cost.
"

That justification may be coming, says Davis at Valley Home Health.
Medicare is looking for ways to measure the outcomes of using the
system versus not using them, she adds. "Telemanagement is one way we
can measure outcomes," Davis says.