With the advent of new technologies come new ways to deliver healthcare. Telehealth services have been around for some time, but the field continues to evolve with the rapid changes in technology, making remote care and monitoring of even serious health conditions possible. And with remote care comes savings for patients and healthcare systems alike.
Evidence from a study conducted in the urban-based Bilbao-Basurto Integrated Healthcare Organization (IHO) in Spain indicates that home telemonitoring of chronic patients reduces the use of healthcare resources. The small exploratory study focused on housebound patients with heart failure (HF) or chronic lung disease (CLD), with repeated hospital admissions. Patients in the study responded to a daily health status questionnaire, sent from their smartphones to a web-platform with an alert system. The study measured the number of hospital admissions occurring 12 months before and after the telemonitoring intervention, length of hospital stay, and number of emergency department (ED) visits. The study concluded that telemonitoring had a positive impact in reducing hospital admissions, ED visits, and length of hospital stay. Hospital admissions were cut from an average of 2.6 per patient to just 1.1 per patient. Emergency visits were cut in half from 4.2 to 2.1 per patient. And the average length of stay for patients admitted to the hospital was reduced by more than three days, from 11.4 to 7.9 days.
Chronic health problems create a heavy financial burden for both patients and health care systems. Telemonitoring can help alleviate that burden, but as this study’s authors point out, more studies focused on primary care are needed. Since the population of those who could benefit from primary care services telemonitoring is likely greater than that of chronic care, telemonitoring has the potential to have a greater savings and improved health impact there.