Patients often don’t stick to their medical treatment plans, which leads to as much as $290 billion a year in extra healthcare costs, according to the New England Healthcare Institute. A recent study showed that digital self-monitoring and clinical management tools can significantly improve patients’ adherence to treatment.

ResMed, a medical device company that specializes in respiratory care, recently presented a Study on Sleep Apnea and Digital Connected Care. In the study, 128,037 patients who were treated over a 90 day period with one or both of ResMed’s sleep apnea patient monitoring products, AirView and MyAir. AirView is a cloud-based system used by clinicians to manage patients that collects data wirelessly from ResMed CPAP machines used in patient’s homes. MyAir is a web and iPhone application that involves patients in tracking the progress of their therapy between visits to their clinician. MyAir includes a simple daily sleep score, details on key treatment metrics and personalized coaching tips. All patients in the study had AirView reporting to clinicians but some, an unspecified subset of the full test group, also used the patient-connected MyAir app.

According to ResMed,  in general, CPAP adherence may still be as low as 50 percent without wireless monitoring. In the 90-day study, patients with wireless AirView monitoring alone were in compliance with their program 70 percent of the time, which is a significant increase over those with no monitoring. However, the patients who used MyAir along with AirView were greater than 87 percent compliant, a 24 percent increase.

The conclusion ResMed draws from its study is that digital self-monitoring is an effective tool to boost medical treatment compliance. Furthermore, these results could apply to other forms of treatment as well. “This new study shows that online self-monitoring tools engage patients and significantly improve their compliance and adherence to treatment,” said ResMed Medical Director Adam Benjafield, PhD. “While our study focused on PAP users, we believe these results may be generalized more broadly in terms of the role online tools can have in improving medical treatment compliance overall.” Saving a few hundred billion dollars in avoidable costs could be a huge benefit for individual patients and our healthcare system as a whole.