Mobile monitoring tools can cut diabetes management costs in half

By Judy Mottl, for FierceMobileHealthcare

Mobile monitoring of diabetic employees can save more than $3,000 a year in healthcare costs, half of the average annual medical insurance cost for workers diagnosed with diabetes, according to recently published research.

The study, "Deployment of an mHealth Patient Monitoring Solution for Diabetes -- Improved Glucose Monitoring Leads to Reduction in Medical Expenditure," states that the savings kick in as monitoring tools lead to less hospitalization time and emergency care.

"These results suggest that it is possible to use technology to provide better care for more people at lower costs, while also reducing the impact of chronic illness on patients and their families" study author Jonathan Javitt, M.D., said in an announcement. He noted that 70 percent of healthcare dollars are spent on the care of chronic diseases.

The study comes as healthcare providers, health insurance companies and businesses are grappling with increasing costs and new government mandates as part of the Affordable Care Act.

"Technology is the best way to alleviate the burden of complications associated with those chronic illnesses," Javitt, who previously served as a White House healthcare advisor in both the Clinton and Bush healthcare administrations, said.

Such cost savings could represent a staggering national business impact given that 8.3 percent of the U.S. population suffer from diabetes and the number of diagnosed patients has spiked from 1.5 million in 1958 to 18.8 million as of 2010, according to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP). The NDEP reports total healthcare and related costs for the treatment of diabetes run about $174 billion annually, with $116 billion accounting for direct medical costs such as care, treatment supplies and hospitalization. The remaining $58 billion is tied to time lost from work, premature death and disability payments.

The study cites an American Diabetes Association statistic that individuals with diabetes incur on average $13,700 per year in medical expenses, more than half ($7,900) of which is spent directly on treatment of diabetes and its complications. According to a recently published infographic, $36 billion will be saved globally in the next five years by remotely monitoring patients with chronic disease.

In the study, a mobile health glucose meter, the Telcare Diabetes Management System, was paired with ActiveCare's data analytics, real-time biometrics analysis and 24x7 monitoring and care services for 143 employees as part of an employer-sponsored diabetes disease management intervention.

Telcare's technology is the first FDA-approved glucose meter, and uses embedded cellular transmission capability.

The study abstract also notes that Javitt is a shareholder and employee of Telcare.

For more insight:
- read the report
- here's the accompanying announcement
- read this call to action on mHealth and diabetes management
- check out the infographic
- here are the NDEP statistics regarding diabetes in the U.S.