I learned a new term yesterday, aging in place. This term describes the elderly living independently in their own homes. One of the chief tools to help folks "age in place" is remote monitoring. Yesterday, Christina Thielst had a nice column in Health IT World about remote monitoring and Gregg Malkary's recent market study on remote monitoring. (Gregg creates great market studies, and anyone interested in remote monitoring should have one - disclosure: sadly I don't get a penny if you actually buy one of Gregg's reports.)

The current top remote monitoring markets are congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and diabetes. Christina nicely summarized Gregg's findings regarding barriers to adoption for remote monitoring:

  • Little incentive in a fee-for-service environment, but a huge stimulus when providers have fiscal responsibility for patients. Providers such as the Veterans Administration (VA)
    and home health agencies reimbursed per patient per month are attracted
    to remote patient monitoring solutions for monitoring greater numbers of patients more efficiently.
  • The current healthcare model is focused on active care, not prevention. Clinicians
    are not paid to prevent treatment, but they may become more interested
    in solutions that help improve their patient outcomes for
    pay-for-performance programs.
  • Professional licensure regulations are too restrictive. Patients
    living in rural communities are usually prevented from utilizing
    available solutions when their closest and chosen provider is located
    across state lines. And these are often the patients with the most
    significant transportation limitations.
  • According to 95 percent of those surveyed, the lack of healthcare payer reimbursement is the top barrier. Most
    insurance plans are not reimbursing patients for the cost of the
    equipment; however, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    (CMS) and the VA are conducting large demonstration projects that may
    open the doors to increased payer reimbursement.

These are some of the structural health care issues that, in differing combinations, can stymie change of any kind in health care. The vendor side of the health care industry has it's own set of structural issues. As patient demands grow and reimbursement comes around, those that hope to succeed in remote monitoring will have to think outside the box - not only regarding connectivity and the whole product solution, but also regarding health care structural issues.

Pictured right is Health Hero Network's Health Buddy.