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December 5, 2016

Remote care technology helps to battle chronic diseases

Chronic disease technology is advancing rapidly in healthcare. Worldwide, health communities and organizations are using healthcare technology to battle the financial and human costs of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and obesity. This focus on technology is happening with good reason — in the U.S., chronic disease tops the list of healthcare challenges we face, writes Megan Williams.

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Williams is a consultant and writer who specializes in healthcare technology.  What she sees, is that chronic conditions, specifically the avoidable kind, are no small issue for the already stressed and uncertain healthcare system in the U.S., she believes.  According to the CDC, in 2010, a full 86 percent of total healthcare expenditures went to the treatment of chronic disease, a number that will go up.

As an illustration: a recent Vivify report revealed that about half of Americans have at least one chronic condition, and as our nation’s baby boomers age, their likelihood of acquiring multiple chronic conditions increases. Worldwide, billions of people have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes or cardiovasculair problems.

The rise in chronic conditions such as diabetes means significant costs for both the national health systems and individuals. This burden shifts from the healthcare system as a whole to the pockets of Americans, many of whom already can’t afford treatment.  Preventing this domino effect is a boon for both patients and the healthcare system, as healthcare costs for a patient with more than five chronic conditions can be over 15 times more than a patient with none, according to the Vivify report.

Important role technology

Its not all bad news, says Williams.  Since 2010 (when the cost of chronic illness was around $315 billion), the number of preventable deaths has dropped. This change signals the possibility of effectively shifting the course of chronic illness in the U.S. today. 

Technology plays an important part here, coming together under the umbrella of remote care management — essentially, applied telemedicine that allows patients to manage their chronic conditions from the comfort of their own homes.

Remote care solutions, which can be implemented by both payers and providers, provide benefits such as reduced costs, lowered risk through patient education, better adherence to treatment and early intervention to avoid hospital admissions.

Telehealth crucial player

Telehealth disease technology can be a crucial player in empowering patients to manage their conditions on their own, focus on prevention and avoid expensive visits to the ER or hospital, as well as needless readmissions. This impact is often underestimated.

Most importantly though, this disease technology improves the quality of a patient’s life. Effective remote care management technologies focus on providing patients with education and coaching resources that recruit community and family as vital tools in improving health outcomes.
Remote solutions aren’t just for adults either: vendors like Samsung and Vivify recently partnered to provide Children’s Health of Dallas with a remote monitoring program that lets young patients track their conditions on Samsung Galaxy tablets.

Future of Remote Care

Williams expects to see population health initiatives play an even more vital role than they do now, as healthcare technology around chronic disease continues to advance. Many organizations that implement mobile remote population monitoring solutions use their platforms to manage the value-based risk that comes with caring for chronic disease-heavy patient populations. Also,  core technologies of population health and remote monitoring (most specifically tablets and data analytics) continue to play a pivotal role in the delivery and refinement of the concept.

With remote healthcare technology solutions advancing every day, living with a chronic condition is more manageable than ever.

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