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Home health monitoring: what healthcare leaders need to know

November 1, 2013

Nicholas Zamora
From Home Health Monitoring Fall 2013

The future of healthcare is friendly

In its 2012 report, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that for the third straight year, growth in healthcare spending was less than that in the overall economy. The proportion of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) spent on healthcare in 2012 was expected to reach 11.6 percent – down from 11.7 percent in 2011 and the alltime high of 11.9 percent in 2010.

As government funders focus on controlling healthcare costs, the emphasis is placed more on improving productivity than on cutting programs. Not surprisingly, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare is gaining momentum. Healthcare professionals throughout Canada are already working with electronic systems and seeing easier access to information needed for care, improved communication and coordination with colleagues, more efficient ways of working, and other benefits.

There exist real opportunities to increase efficiency of information exchange across the entire healthcare system and support individuals to remain independent at home. Home Health Monitoring (HHM) technology is one such opportunity. It plays an integral role in the lives of patients with chronic conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes or congestive heart failure (HF). HHM empowers these patients, who are frequent users of the healthcare system, to monitor their own health from the comfort of their own home, and provide their healthcare team with detailed information about their health in real time. Healthcare providers can closely monitor patients and take action before situations become acute, averting the use of costly emergency visits or hospital readmissions.

The future of healthcare is friendly. TELUS Health technology enables healthcare providers to deliver more proactive support. It empowers patients to manage their own health. And, we believe our technology can make an integral contribution to transforming Canada’s healthcare system.

Introduction

The Canadian healthcare system, like those around the world, is confronting the weighty challenge of adapting and transforming its service delivery to meet the needs of the increasing aging population today and in the years to come. With our aging population comes an inevitable increase in chronic disease that, in turn, will place stress on the healthcare system and intensify the pressure to control the high costs of delivering quality care.

Today, seniors represent just 14 percent of the population, yet use 40 percent of hospital services in Canada and account for nearly half of all provincial and territorial government health spending.

Existing healthcare systems that were designed to respond primarily to infections and acute illnesses are no longer suitable for populations that are living longer and are in need of more supportive and preventive services.

Addressing this complex challenge will rely on leadership from multiple stakeholder groups – from point of care, to hospital administration, to policy-makers, to funders. Across this spectrum, it is critical for healthcare leaders to understand Home Health Monitoring (HHM) because it represents a key opportunity to simultaneously improve patient outcomes and reduce the costs of healthcare.

For example, HHM programs focused on patients with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure (HF) can help patients who are frequent users of the health system to be discharged earlier and not be readmitted to hospitals.

Interest in HHM technologies is gaining momentum. HHM deployment in clinical settings is covered more and more often in industry publications. Additionally, there are public programs that leverage HHM: in the US with Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and in Canada through provincial telehealth programs like the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN).

A number of recent studies from Canada, the US and the UK make it clear that HHM services reduce re-admissions to hospitals, as well as average length of stay and visits to the emergency room. Patient satisfaction using HHM is also consistently high and can have important impact on a patient’s quality of life and their ability to have more control over their own healthcare. In the years to come, widespread adoption of these empowering services and technologies will be essential in order to meet patient demand and to respond to the profound demographic shift that is happening in Canada.

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