News Feature | August 2, 2016

mHealth Tools Help Cut $8K In Annual Medical Costs For Heart Failure Patients

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

mHealth Market

A Pennsylvania study of a year-long RPM pilot resulted in $8,000 per-patient annual savings in medical costs for heart failure patients and a one-third reduction in hospitalizations.

Remote patient monitoring offers obvious benefits for patients, but according to a recent mHealth study it also has real potential to save hospitals money as well as cut hospitalization rates.

mHealth Intelligence reports Capital Blue Cross and Geneia (an mHealth technology company) designed and conducted the @Home study, an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of remote monitoring. The study compared members in the Blue Cross network who were equipped with Medtronic’s ZephyrLIFE home monitoring platform to a control group made up of heart failure patients who were not monitored. The results reflected a $1 million total savings across a year.

The Study
Patients in the study were required to be diagnosed with heart failure and to have had two or more ED admissions or at least one impatient admission in the last 12-month period. These patients then received between 91 and 180 days of at home monitoring through the ZephyrLIFE platform. The study lasted between January 2015 and February 2016 and evaluated clinical, use, and financial outcomes.

Personal Impact
The core purpose of the study was to target elderly patients navigating chronic conditions who preferred to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Jennifer Chambers, MD, the Harrisburg, PA-based company’s chief medical officer, emphasized the importance of addressing the human impact of care plans, saying, “Not only is chronic disease expensive, difficult to manage, and a drain on our healthcare system, it also takes a toll on patients and families, decreasing their quality of life and often leading to an accelerated transition out of the home and into facility-based care.”

Dr. Chambers continued on to say the results of the pilot program had been “promising,” adding, “More of our seniors struggling with chronic disease will benefit from this technology and, together with their provider and the case management team learn to better understand and manage their chronic conditions and continue to live full and independent lives in their own homes.”

One off-setting cost was found in ED visits. Officials reported a 7 percent increase in emergency visits — a jump that’s likely attributable to the improved ability to catch health issues that unmonitored patients and caregivers might be missing. The increase was reported to be “consistent with other research that reported monitoring HF patients was associated with a reduction in planned hospital visits and lower monetary costs, despite a modest increase in unplanned hospital and ED visits.”

Even with this arguable bump, the results of the study were promising, according to an official press release. “Overall, the Geneia remote monitoring study, like other similar studies, shows largely positive clinical, utilization, cost, and patient experience outcomes. When combined with a quality case management program, appropriate clinical support, and a robust technology platform capable of collecting and synthesizing biometric device data, the @Home program demonstrates potential to reduce costs, improve outcomes and maintain a high quality of life for patients with chronic disease.”