A Technological Answer to Healthcare Cost, Workforce Issues

We’re all concerned about how our healthcare workforces will keep up with an increasing patient population.  Not only is Medicare growing at the rate of 7,500 new beneficiaries per day, but the Affordable Care Act will lead to millions more Americans having health coverage when fully implemented.

We’re seeing one answer in the form of technology that is helping to reduce hospital readmissions and enable health facilities to evaluate patient conditions and needs without requiring them to come to the doctor’s office.

This week, the Geisinger Health Plan and AMC Health announced the results of a two-year evaluation of a telemonitoring program developed by AMC.  Geisinger found that home telemonitoring of patients with congestive heart failure reduced 30-day hospital readmission rates by more than 40 percent.

Here’s how the system works.  Patients receive scheduled calls from an interactive voice response system.  The patients report their symptoms, with those responses immediately stored in their electronic health record and evaluated.  A determination is made whether the patient needs a follow-up with a nurse or a case manager.  96 percent of the Geisinger case managers said the system was allowing them to monitor heart failure patients more effectively.

This also bolsters our argument that there are better ways to address healthcare’s cost issues than simply axing dollars out of the system and consequently reducing patient access and care quality.  There are technological solutions, as shown in this innovative work by AMC Health and Geisinger, that can make the system more cost-effective while providing even better care to patients.