Research and Exploration

The Future Health Index points to a connected future

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David White 
Market Research Analyst,
Philips Connected Sensing

Three findings from the Future Health Index point to a strong future for connected sensing technology:

  1. There’s a strong belief that connected care technologies have a huge role to play in home health.
  2. Coupled to the point above, healthcare professionals believe connected care can benefit long-term management and tracking of health issues more than any other area.
  3. Overall, people have more trust in an integrated healthcare system.

 

In my view, those three findings are all inter-related.  Let’s dive into the first two first, and then come back to integration and trust.

A well-integrated connected health solution that eases seamlessly into a patient’s daily life could make compliance much easier for patients.  And that in turn could play a role in improving the outcomes of monitoring chronic diseases in the home.” 

Connected care and home health

 

The Future Health Index survey showed there’s a strong belief that connected care can really help with home health and long-term health management.  Connected care isn’t a new idea.  For example, the concept of telehealth for cardiology has been around for over one hundred years, with the first remote ECG transmission in 1906.  Today, connected care for home health typically takes the form of remote patient monitoring.  The goal is to ensure the patient’s ongoing health – either during recovery from an acute care episode, or to manage a chronic condition.  From a cost perspective, reducing hospital readmissions and emergency room visits can have a major impact on the overall cost of care.  The average cost of a Medicare readmission is $13,800.  However, the results of remote patient monitoring are unclear.  Some studies showing little positive impact – either on the patient’s wellbeing or cost (Ong et al, and Bloss et al). 

 

The reality is, remote monitoring can be complex, unwieldy, and intimidating for patients.  For example, a patient may have to work with many different devices to collect the data that the care provider needs to monitor their progress.  That’s not an easy or patient friendly process.  In such cases, from a patient’s perspective, remote patient monitoring becomes a chore for the patient.  A hindrance, not a help.

 

How can connected sensing technology improve this?  As technologies evolve, it becomes easier to monitor multiple vital signs with a single device.  A well-integrated connected health solution that eases seamlessly into a patient’s daily life could make compliance much easier for patients.  And that in turn could play a role in improving the outcomes of monitoring chronic diseases in the home.  Heart failure alone affects 5.7m adults in the US, with a total estimated cost to the country of $30.7bn.  Better monitoring in the home could help to improve the life of patients, and reduce the total cost of care.  That’s the promise of modern connected care technologies.
 

Connected sensing technology and integrated healthcare systems

 

People – both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers – trust healthcare systems that are more integrated.  That makes intuitive sense.  After all, caring effectively for chronic conditions is a team sport.  It may involve an acute care hospital, primary care, a skilled nursing facility and a home health agency – as well as the patient and their family.  This demands a tight, well–scripted choreography of all care providers working together.  The same is true for many episodic conditions that require extensive post-acute care – such as hip or knee replacements. 

 

The patient’s outcome is inevitably dependent on the successful coordination and communication between all parties.  But, in a world of paper records and fax-based communication, that coordination and communication is fraught with difficulty.  Strong integration among healthcare providers can ease this coordination and communication burden.  That can provide the foundation for a better outcome. 

 

And that’s a role that connected sensing technology can play.  More cost effective and less intrusive technologies can provide patient monitoring across the care continuum:  From the hospital general floor, through discharge, skilled nursing, and into the home.  Patient monitoring can continuously collect – and share – a uniform set of vitals across authorized care providers.  With a baseline for a patients vital signs established and continuous monitoring provided, the inherent danger of care transitions can be eased.  And this can help to ensure that the risk of delivering low quality care is minimized.  

Stay up to date on the latest news in connected care

i The Future Health Index is an international study of the general population and healthcare professionals conducted annually by Philips. The study examines views on healthcare access and integration, and connected care technologies. The first study was conducted in 2016. The 2017 study combines quantitative surveys, secondary data analysis, and qualitative in-depth interviews conducted from January-March, 2017 in 19 countries.

https://www.futurehealthindex.com/report/2017.

ii https://www.futurehealthindex.com/report/2017.

iii Remote Monitoring of Heart Failure Patients, Arvind Bhimaraj.

iv All-Cause Readmissions by Payer and Age, 2009–2013, Statistical Brief #199

v Effectiveness of Remote Patient Monitoring After Discharge of Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure, Ong, Michael et al. 

vi A prospective randomized trial examining health care utilization in individuals using multiple smartphone-enabled biosensors, Bloss, Cinnamon et al.

vii Patient Monitoring in Mobile Health: Opportunities and Challenges, Mohammadzadeh and Safdari

viii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Heart Failure Fact Sheet  

ix https://www.futurehealthindex.com/report/2017.

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