HIMSS10: Chronic disease management improves in Cleveland Clinic, Microsoft pilot

A collaborative pilot between Microsoft and the Cleveland Clinic found that when patients with three specific chronic conditions used medical devices in their homes to connect with doctors, patient activity became more focused and physician efficiency improved. An announcement of the pilot's findings came at a press conference at HIMSS10 in Atlanta on Monday. 

Out of 250 patients participating in the pilot, which began in December 2008, 68 percent had hypertension, 26 percent suffered from diabetes and 6 percent had heart failure. Diabetic and hypertensive patients participating found themselves visiting the doctor less, with the number of days in between visits increasing for diabetic patients by 71 percent and for hypertensive patients by 26 percent. Heart failure patients found themselves visiting the doctor more often, which Cleveland Clinic heart doctor Randall Starling praised. 

"When treating heart failure patients, timely intervention is crucial when complications arise, so that we can prevent serious problems that may require emergency room visits or readmissions," he said. 

The participating patients used devices like at-home heart rate monitors, glucometers, scales, pedometers and blood pressure monitors to upload data to Microsoft's HealthVault service (which Peter Neupert, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, reiterated at the press conference was not a PHR, but rather a tool to help PHRs). From there, the information was sent to personal health and electronic health records for each patient at the Cleveland Clinic. 

"Making it easier for patients to more actively engage in their ongoing health and wellness is a necessary step in trying to manage the increasing onset of chronic disease worldwide and the costs associated with this alarming trend," Neupert said. 

While Dr. C. Martin Harris, chief information officer of the Cleveland Clinic and HIMSS chair elect, feels that a larger test group of perhaps 1,200 people eventually should be looked at to determine how successful such efforts truly can be, he expressed optimism for the results to date. 

"Although more research is certainly needed, the results of this observational study are promising," Harris said. "Ultimately, such improvements make for more efficient healthcare, healthier patients and possibly a reduction in healthcare costs." 

To learn more about the Cleveland Clinic/Microsoft pilot:
- read this press release