AHRQ urged to consider more studies on telehealth's benefits

HIMSS and the Personal Connected Health Alliance are urging the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to consider conducting additional studies that provide more data on the benefits of telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

In a letter, the two organizations provide comments to an AHRQ technical brief on telemedicine issued in December. That effort, based on 44 systematic reviews and interviews with key stakeholders, determined telehealth interventions produced "positive results," primarily through improved communication, but called for more research on its effectiveness in chronic disease management.

Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), in December 2014, had asked AHRQ to review the value of telehealth and remote patient monitoring, particularly for the chronically ill.

In addition to pointing to more specific research, the HIMSS and PCHA recommended the study include:

  • Expanded location definitions to include monitoring in the home
  • Expanded modality types, including remote patient monitoring and the use of "continuity of care," to include platforms that assist with population health management, or other data aggregation and analysis tools used in care management
  • That patient engagement be included in the possible outcomes
  • That the study not be limited to literature reviews, but also "to include individual studies with an emphasis on studies that do not restrict the research to only care delivery models that require doctor-patient interaction"

The number of patients using remote health monitoring devices doubled in 2015 to 4.9 million, according to a recent Berg Insights report. Meanwhile, Frost & Sullivan predicts the remote monitoring market in the United States will grow roughly 13.2 percent per year through 2020.

The United Kingdom also has its sites set on remote monitoring with the National Health Service recently announcing a range of pilot projects to study how modern technology can help improve chronic disease management.

To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)