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With Telehealth Success in Hand, a Hospital Reaches Out to Payers

Published Wednesday, September 18, 2019

 - Armed with the results of a telehealth program that greatly reduced hospital readmissions, a Detroit health system is now looking for payer partnerships to expand their reach.

Executives at the Henry Ford Health System say their e-Home Care service, which provides mHealth and telemedicine technology for the Henry Ford at Home program, reduced rehospitalizations by some 45 percent during the first half of 2019, as compared to the same time period in 2018, with a monthly readmission rate dropping to as low as 7 percent.

That translates to an improvement in clinical outcomes and health and wellness for the more than 130 patients enrolled in the remote patient monitoring program, as well as a significant reduction in healthcare costs. And it offers another example of why health systems are turning to RPM platforms to manage chronic care and post-discharge patient populations at home.

“Utilizing technology to care for our patients is the future of healthcare,” Mary Hagen, manager of the Henry Ford e-Home Care service, said in a press release. “Technology provides access to patients in more ways that are convenient for them, efficient for care providers, and offers an extra layer of safety for our patients in their homes.”

“We see a future in which patients are comfortable with and proficient at utilizing mobile devices to communicate with clinicians, manage their healthcare, and be more knowledgeable about their own health, as well as the health of their loved ones,” she added.

For this program, the health system selected applicants following a home health visit, then supplied them with a tablet loaded with mHealth applications and Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices, all developed by New Jersey-based Health Recovery Solutions. Using the tablet and devices, the patients were able to gather biometric data as needed, send that information to their care team and connect with them via virtual visit or phone when needed.

The pilot builds on an RPM program developed with HRS that has been in place since 2017. The health system has been using that platform to monitor several chronic care populations, including those living with congestive heart failure, COPD, cancer and hypertension, as well as those recovering from cardiothoracic and transplant surgeries.

While Medicare is only slowing catching on to the value of RPM programs and Medicaid coverage varies by state, healthcare providers looking to scale and sustain these programs are turning to private payers and health plans to negotiate coverage.