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Remote Medical Monitoring Cuts Hospital Readmission Rates

One way that healthcare providers have ensured a better transition from the hospital to a patient’s home is by integrating remote medical monitoring technology.

By Vera Gruessner

- A major goal throughout the federal government has been its aim to reduce rising healthcare costs. As such, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have instituted a punitive decrease in reimbursement among healthcare providers with high hospital readmission rates. In particular, hospitals with many patients being readmitted in less than 30 days after their last stay will be reimbursed less than the standard amount.

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These type of regulations are aimed at both improving the quality of care and cutting costs by incentivizing hospitals to ensure a stronger home transition and reducing their hospital readmission rates.

One way that healthcare providers have ensured a better transition from the hospital to a patient’s home is by integrating remote medical monitoring technology. The results seem to be favorable, as various facilities have been able to reduce their hospital readmission rates with the use of remote patient monitoring.

St. Jude Medical Inc. recently announced in a company press release results showing that patients with cardiac devices who use remote medical monitoring exhibited less hospitalizations and lower medical costs when compared with patients who do not have this technology at home.

These results are based on a study spanning five years, which is the largest study so far to determine the benefits of remote medical monitoring technology. This study further supports the role that remote monitoring improves patient care and can potentially cut hospital readmission rates.

“This study is the first of its kind to find an economic benefit when remote monitoring is utilized in pacemaker, defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization patients in the U.S.,” Jonathan Piccini, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, said in a public statement. 

“Use of remote monitoring is associated with lower risks of hospitalization, shorter hospital stays, and lower rates of heart failure and stroke hospitalization. Additionally, since fewer than half of cardiac device patients currently use remote monitoring, our findings suggest a significant opportunity for quality improvement. These important observations should have significant implications for patient management, as well as costs to the health care system.”

The study involved more than 90,000 patients who have had implantable cardiac devices and were followed in a remote care setting. When compared to patients who were not monitored remotely, the results show a cost savings of more than $370,000 per 100 patients each year and reduction of 10 hospitalizations and 119 days in the hospital.

Other results from the five-year study illustrate improved survival rates among patients using remote medical monitoring equipment. Patients who exhibited high adherence to remote monitoring had a probability of survival 2.4 times that of patients who did not use remote medical monitoring.

“This study adds to the growing body of evidence that remote monitoring benefits cardiac device patients,” Mark D. Carlson, M.D., chief medical officer for St. Jude Medical, stated in the news release.

“In addition to improved survival, reduced hospital stays and lower healthcare costs, the Merlin.net Patient Care Network offers a convenient alternative to visiting a doctor’s office several times a year, which is typically required for patient follow-up.”

The Scripps Translational Science Institute is also taking part in studying the effects of remote patient monitoring on approximately 1,000 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a press release from the organization.

With one out of every 11 patients with COPD being readmitted to the hospital in less than 30 days after discharge, it grows imperative to reduce these rates, cut medical costs, and improve overall quality of patient care with the help of remote medical monitoring.

“This research collaboration with Sentrian and CareMore fits nicely with our mission at Scripps to study the latest advances in digital medicine technologies as part of our effort to replace traditional one-size-fits-all medicine with precision health care and to accelerate patient access to effective new approaches to treating illnesses,” Dr. Steven Steinhubl, director of digital medicine at STSI, stated in the press release.

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