Home telemonitoring of newly discharged patients by hospital personnel has a bright future as long as healthcare payers support the concept and are willing to reimburse for it. A recent article discussed a new telemonitoring initiative at the Partners health system in Boston in collaboration with Philips (see: Partners keeps tabs on patients at home). Below is an excerpt from a recent article about this topic:
With an eye on reducing hospital readmissions and boosting patient care coordination, Partners HealthCare at Home, a division Partner's HealthCare in Boston, is rolling out new telemonitoring technology. The technology, from Royal Philips, will be employed to provide improved clinical oversight for newly discharged patients and those with chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure. Monitoring patients at home makes it possible for the nursing staff of Partners HealthCare At Home to track vital signs and intervene earlier with medical attention when it’s needed. The goal is to reduce costly hospital readmissions, and the savings can add up to millions of dollars, as Partners has shown. "Remote patient monitoring does more than improve care coordination," Sue Beausoliel, RN, vice president of operations at Partners HealthCare at Home..."It provides a tool for patients to actively engage in their own health management. As the healthcare industry focuses more on improving patient experience and outcomes while reducing costs, technologies such as home monitoring contribute toward improved quality of life. Instead of having to wait for the next appointment, this real-time data daily monitoring helps us connect with patients, track their health status, alert us to a problem and intervene earlier before it becomes full blown." ....As [a Philips executive sees it] sees it, the Affordable Care Act, introduced a "new world order" to healthcare that has spurred many hospitals to follow their patients home, so to speak....."You can’t have this siloed care, where we're paying you for taking care of people in the hospital; we’re paying someone else to take care of patients out of the hospital. You two don’t really interact. You don’t coordinate your care."
Here's a short quote from a article on reimbursement for home health monitoring (see: Reimbursement for home monitoring gradually expands):
Barriers to reimbursement for telehealth services are falling, slowly. One of the most recent victories came in Massachusetts, where lawmakers this summer approved a general appropriations bill that included Medicaid reimbursement for remote monitoring services in patient homes. This action...makes Massachusetts the 12th state to approve Medicaid payments for home monitoring, according to the American Telemedicine Association.The ATA reports that 19 states have mandated private insurance coverage for traditional, clinician-to-clinician telemedicine services, but reimbursement for home monitoring when a healthcare professional is not always present has been much harder to come by. In fact, the Massachusetts legislation has a bit of a catch: it applies only to home health agencies, not hospitals or physician practices, which is why the Massachusetts Medical Association declined to comment.
I believe that, slowly, hospitals inpatient services are becoming less relevant and necessary. Outpatient surgery keeps expanding its scope to encompass more complicated cases. I first ventured into a discussion of the hospital of the future with a blog note about "bedless" hospitals and virtual physician and nurse visits (see: The Future of Healthcare: Virtual Physician Visits & Bedless Hospitals; Global Study Finds Majority Believe Traditional Hospitals Will Be Obsolete in the Near Future). Home telemonitoring of recently discharged patients has the possibility of morphing into virtual inpatient stays. For the latest twist on alternatives to high-cost inpatient beds, consider an outpatient oncology infusion center coupled with an extended stay hotel (see: Top 5 things to watch for as University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex grows). Such a facility allows cancer centers to serve a larger population of patients while offering close 24-hour monitoring and support.