Geisinger Health Plan, based in Danville, Pa., reports that its use of a home telemonitoring program for patients with congestive heart failure reduced their readmission rate by 44 percent, compared to a control group. The success of the telehealth program, which incorporated technology from AMC Health, has prompted Geisinger to expand it to include patients with hypertension and diabetes.
The core of the heart failure program is an interactive voice response (IVR) system that asks discharged patients a series of questions about their symptoms after they have submitted their weight.
In the two-year study, Geisinger compared the 30-day readmission rates of patients who received only case management with those who both had a case manager and used the telemonitoring system. Eighty-five percent of the patients in the study used this system regularly.
Today, about 1,000 patients with congestive heart failure are utilizing the telemonitoring system at any given time. According to Geisinger, the technology has allowed the case management program to accommodate more patients than it previously could.
A survey of Geisinger case managers found that most believed the telehealth program helped keep their patients out of the hospital. Nearly all of them found that the system enabled them to monitor the patients more efficiently.
A large-scale 2008 study by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of several telehealth technologies found that they reduced the number of hospital bed days by 25 percent and hospital admissions by 19 percent. A recent report prepared for the U.K. National Health Service said the U.K. should follow the VHA's example.