ACOs increasingly turn to remote patient monitoring

More than half of accountable care organizations that responded to a recent survey from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Spyglass Consulting Group are using remote patient monitoring to manage high-risk chronically ill patients.

Most of the hospitals and health systems interviewed are or were in the process of becoming ACOs. Fifty-five percent of them said they had deployed or are evaluating remote-monitoring technology to reduce readmissions, to attain financial incentives related to chronic-disease management and care coordination, to increase self-management of disease.

Significant challenges remain, however, according to an announcement. Seventy-one percent of respondents expressed concern about integrating remote monitoring into clinical care processes and existing IT systems, including electronic health records. Fifty-eight percent were concerned that the technology does not provide adequate support for clinical analytics and decision support tools. And more than half questioned the clinical effectiveness of the technology and the ability to achieve a positive return on investment.

The survey follows similar Spyglass reports from 2009 and 2006, when one of the biggest issues was getting payers on board. To address that issue, the Center for Connected Health and the Center for Technology and Aging recently developed a Web-based tool to evaluate ROI on remote monitoring systems.

Participants in a National Health Policy Institute roundtable pointed to emerging technologies as one of three keys to success for ACOs--particularly technologies that increase patient involvement in their own care. Another was evidence-based care.

Brian Hodgkins, executive vice president of Heritage ACO--a pioneer ACO covering 90,000 beneficiaries in central and southern California--recently predicted that data and IT systems probably will be "the most strategic parts of any ACO," especially for understanding population management.

Teresa Younkin, who serves as community engagement lead for the Keystone Beacon Community Project, however, said technology isn't the sole answer.

"Allow partners to shape and align their use of technology with their organization goals," she said.

To learn more:
- find the announcement (.pdf)