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Philips Strengthens RPM Platform With New Telehealth Partnership

Philips' acquisition of VitalHealth gives the company a telehealth base from which providers can offer population health programs for people with chronic conditions. It's indicative of the manner in which remote monitoring is evolving.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Philips is strengthening its remote patient monitoring platform with the acquisition of a telehealth company specializing in population health technology.

The company’s deal with VitalHealth, a Dutch company launched in 2006 out of the Mayo Clinic, will bolster an RPM service catering to chronic disease populations, including people with diabetes, COPD, congestive heart failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

RPM and other telehealth and mobile health platforms for chronic conditions are expected to see a surge in the coming years as healthcare providers look to take on care management and coordination for populations outside the health system. That popularity coincides with an increase in seniors looking to stay at home – especially among the Baby Boomer population – and people diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions.

In acquiring VitalHealth, Philips is looking to bolster traditional telehealth and telemedicine services – contained within the company’s Healthsuite digital platform and Wellcentive solution – with technology that helps providers identify and coordinate care for high-risk, high-cost patient populations.

The enhanced platform also provides patients with the tools to manage their health at home, as well as a platform to engage other care providers, like family, friends and home health aides.

“This strategic acquisition complements our current offering in population health management, and supports our commitment to deliver integrated solutions for care providers and patients to improve people’s health,” Carla Kriwet, Chief Business Leader of the Connected Care & Health Informatics Businesses at Royal Philips, said in a statement. “As a pioneer in comprehensive population health management solutions, we are committed to help drive business transformation for providers, health systems, employers, and payers transitioning to value-based care. VitalHealth will help us deliver on that commitment by strengthening our offering for care coordination, outcome management and patient engagement.”

The Philips-VitalHealth partnership is another example of telehealth and telemedicine platforms being brought to bear on targeted populations like those with chronic diseases. Health systems are looking to push care management and coordination for these populations away from brick-and-mortar facilities and into online and virtual care platforms, where patient and care providers can exchange data and collaborate on care plans at any time and place.

Krivet, who spoke at Partners Healthcare’s Connected Health Conference this past October in Boston, said health systems want to manage those populations away from and in between visits to the doctor’s office to better control healthcare expenses and prevent medical emergencies. They also want to improve the care management process to give patients more confidence, which in turn improves outcomes and patient satisfaction.

But the RPM process has to be coordinated, she said. Because Medicare and other payers have been slow to embrace and reimburse RPM programs, providers need to build out their telemedicine and telehealth programs to meet proven benchmarks.

Healthcare “has gotten ahead of itself” with RPM services, she said. That’s especially true in platforms that incorporate mobile devices and wearables that haven’t yet proven to be reliable or to give doctors the data they need.

“We have to identify the patients who [would most benefit from] remote monitoring and make sure the technology supports their care,” she told mHealthIntelligence.com during an interview at the Connected Health Conference.

For health systems, she said, that means investing in telehealth and telemedicine platforms first, establishing a framework that delivers and manages care, and then expanding that platform as new technologies are proven. 

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