As we hit the midway point in the summer of 2019, there were several new telehealth initiatives, research, and activities that made the news.
A home care company used telehealth to stretch the workflows of doctors treating elderly patients last month. Although the program was a trial, the company reported very positive outcomes and is planning on continuing the program.
A $13.2 million clinical trial was launched in July to treat new mom’s dealing with stress and depression. The five-year study seeks to use telemedicine to provide talk therapy instead of medication to the one in five mom’s that experience this phenomenon.
Finally, the FDA, Mayo Clinic, and Yale announced their intention to study remote monitoring wearable data on just released heart patients being treated at home.
Telehealth Improves Home Care for Frail and Elderly Patients
In Washington D.C. last month, a pilot program launched by national in-home care provider Senior Helpers documented a 40% cost savings and improved care by replacing the home visit from a primary care doctor with telehealth.
The project placed a certified nursing assistant in the home of the patient, who coordinated a telehealth visit with a primary care doctor. The goal of the study was to test trained home care workers to better manage their healthcare resources to improve access to primary care, cut costs, and reach a larger patient population. The company reported:
There’s been a resurging demand for in-home health consultations as the elderly population continues to climb. Our results illustrate that there is promise in using field-based telepresenters to help manage this demand.
The pilot was launched at the beginning of the year and focused on the impact of care delivery to 33 elderly patients living in the metro Washington D.C. area. This small test yielded results that could have a huge impact on the company’s elderly clients:
- The telemedicine platform reduced the cost of in-home care by 44%.
- The reduction was related to the time and cost savings of not requiring the primary care provider to travel to the patient’s home.
- The telepresenter standing in onsite for the physician cost about 25% less than the family practice doctor.
- There was also a cost reduction in travel and set-up time and in the amount of time spent during the consult.
The study also cited three primary benefits to senior patients and their caregivers including:
- Improved clinical workflows for teams already stretched thin to provide care. Telemedicine can free up the physician’s time, allowing more patients to be treated during the time he or she would have spent traveling to their home.
- Patient engagement is high during these visits, particularly since wait time to see the doctor could be potentially reduced.
- Reduced visits to the ER occurred in seven documented instances during the pilot program.
Alan Abrams, MD, consulting physician on the project stated:
Patients receive more immediate care, physicians can increase the numbers of patients seen, and the responsive onsite examinations provide an opportunity for informed decisions in care escalation.
Study Launched Using Telemedicine to Treat New Moms with Perinatal Stress
A large scale, multi-nation study of telemedicine was announced in July. The collaboration includes healthcare researchers in Chicago, North Carolina, and Toronto, Canada. The five-year study was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) who gave researchers $13.2 million.
Researchers will search for answers to two primary questions:
- First, can telemedicine affect positive outcomes equal to or greater than traditional clinical visits for new mothers experiencing perinatal stress?
- Second, can the treatment during these visits be as effective when delivered by a nurse instead of a specialty doctor?
The question is really can a midlevel provider deliver the same quality of care in an e-visit. While the current research seems to support this theory, a press release from the University of North Carolina suggests that this is the largest study of its type to focus on depression and anxiety in women both during and after pregnancy.
Perinatal stress and postpartum depression are common in as many as one in five women. Researchers stated, “Talk therapy is a proven and effective treatment method for women experiencing mild to severe symptoms, yet less than one in five women have access to this care.” This type of therapy is called “behavioral activation (BA)” and it is a “form of psychotherapy that focuses on providing patients with the skills needed to make small behavioral changes that can improve their mood and overall mental health,” according to the press release.
The goal of the research is to increase the availability of this therapy by using telemedicine to bring treatment to the patient at a time when access to this effective treatment is such a problem. There is strong evidence that non-specialist interventions have been very helpful at treating these patients and researchers are optimistic that this long-term study will make a real difference in the lives of the 1,300 participants. mHealth Intelligence suggests:
It would also add to a growing body of mHealth and telehealth programs aimed at improving care management and coordination for new mothers and their children, from mobile health apps that give moms on-demand access to resources and care providers to virtual care services that connect them to specialists.
FDA, Yale, and Mayo Clinic Study Cardiac mHealth Data
Finally, in July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) partnered with Yale University and the Mayo Clinic on new research to determine whether mHealth remote monitoring platforms can improve clinical outcomes related to medication adherence. The study will launch in August 2019 ad run for 60-days as patients are monitored via a remote telehealth wearable device.
These organizations launched the Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) to monitor discharged heart failure patients in their homes by using wearable devices.
The goal of the project is to determine whether the patient data from these digital devices should be more of a central part of healthcare research into cardiac issues.
Traditionally patient hospitalization rates and mortality have served as key indicators in clinical studies, researchers note that the patient’s satisfaction and general well being while being treated at home should also be taken into consideration. Researchers stated, “Not only is quality of life important in a disease such as heart failure, but patient-centric endpoints can be identified much more quickly than traditional hard outcomes.”
While these were only a few of the news makers in telehealth last month, OrthoLive continues to be a part of the growing movement to leverage these tools. Contact us to find out more about our products and services.