Healthcare at Home Blog Series: Innovative Health Care Technology

Innovations in health care technology make delivering healthcare at home possible

THE VBP Blog

health at home

Our last blog in the series dove into the benefits of providing healthcare at home. Not only can home care reduce the cost of care, but it can also actually increase consumer satisfaction and patient outcomes.

With numerous benefits and value-based payment models and policies aligning to incentivize healthcare at home, the shift is beginning to accelerate. More companies are getting on board with providing health services at home, but how are these services actually being delivered?

As the shift to making the home a healthcare hub continues, it is important to understand the innovative technology that has gotten us here.

Emergence of Telehealth Fuels Healthcare at Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth took off out of necessity. Many providers that were stuck in their ways and provided only in-office visits were forced to adopt telehealth options in order to continue providing safe and effective care to their patients during the pandemic.

While the growth of telehealth was accelerated due to necessity during the pandemic, it is not going away. In fact, even though telehealth utilization has stabilized in recent months, a study by McKinsey & Company shows that it is being used at levels 38X higher than before the pandemic.

Signs show that telehealth will only continue. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the reimbursable telehealth codes for the 2021 physician fee schedule. This is a promising sign that regulatory changes will align to allow telehealth to continue after the pandemic.

In addition, the economy is pointing towards telehealth being a crucial part of health care in the future. Investments in virtual care and digital health in 2020 are currently 3X the level of venture capitalist digital health investment that we saw in 2017. As these investments grow, so does the pressure on companies to develop innovative health care technologies that can take healthcare at home to even further levels.

home health graph

All indicators are pointing to telehealth being a crucial technology for the advancement of healthcare at home and that is good because it is what consumers want. Recent research shows that consumers view telehealth as an important vehicle for their future care needs. 40% surveyed, stated that they believe they will continue to use telehealth going forward. This is up from 11% prior to COVID-19. Patients want convenience when it comes to receiving care and telehealth makes that possible.

Innovative Health Care Technology Makes Transition Possible

While telehealth is a big reason that healthcare at home is possible, there are other technological advancements responsible as well. What technologies are allowing patients to recover at home after a surgery or to receive hospital-level care at home for a chronic issue? The crucial technologies fueling the advancement of healthcare at home are innovations in mobile computing devices and remote patient monitoring devices.

A mobile computing device includes handhelds, tablets, and notebooks. While tablets and laptops are not new, the advancements within the devices are. Mobile computing devices now have bar code and RFID capabilities. This allows for remote patient tracking and even medication administration. Higher bandwidth capabilities also allow the devices to access data networks and EMR systems at more remote locations. There are even devices equipped for mobile ultrasound and X-rays so diagnostic imaging can be performed in the home. All of the advancements allow care to be provided in a consumer’s home, instead of requiring them to go to the doctor’s office or a hospital.

Remote monitoring devices have also come a long way and are now a convenient and effective way to provide treatment for chronic illnesses remotely. Those with diabetes or COPD can submit their glucose levels and other vitals from home via monitoring devices that are linked to physician data networks. Doctors then view the status of their patients remotely and intervene or prescribe treatment if vitals look abnormal. With these devices, consumers do not need to constantly report to their doctor’s office for checkups, instead, they can be remotely monitored from the comfort of their home. 

Daniel Durand, Chief Innovation Officer at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore stated, “What excites me the most about this movement is how rapidly innovations in remote monitoring and point-of-care diagnostics are expanding its potential. Advancements in sensor technology, miniaturization, and machine learning are allowing for real-time remote monitoring of physiological parameters that traditionally could only be measured with costly hospital-based labs and equipment.” Durand goes on to say that, “The result will be an increasingly versatile model that will help keep large numbers of patients with frail health and/or chronic conditions safely ‘liberated’ from the hospital and able to enjoy a far higher quality of life at a much lower cost.”

It is encouraging to see health care executives excited about the shift to delivering healthcare at home. Because of these innovative health care technologies, patients are spending less time recovering in a hospital bed and are instead enjoying more comfort at home while they recover. This not only reduces costs but has been shown to increase patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Advocate’s Perspective

We are finally entering the “sweet spot” where the technology to facilitate care at home makes sense. It’s scalable, affordable, and can help doctors deliver quality care at home. This technology is essential because it allows consumers to receive care where they are most comfortable, and often results in better outcomes. However, if the shift to providing healthcare at home is to continue, payment models and policies must align to incentivize the further expansion of providing care services at home. 

In the next blog, we will take a deeper look into “Hospital at Home” programs popping up across the country and the success that these initiatives have seen.

Onward!

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About the Author

Fady Sahhar brings over 30 years of senior management experience working with major multinational companies including Sara Lee, Mobil Oil, Tenneco Packaging, Pactiv, Progressive Insurance, Transitions Optical, PPG Industries and Essilor (France).

His corporate responsibilities included new product development, strategic planning, marketing management, and global sales. He has developed a number of global communications networks, launched products in over 45 countries, and managed a number of branded patented products.

mandy sahhar

About the Co-Author

Mandy Sahhar provides experience in digital marketing, event management, and business development. Her background has allowed her to get in on the ground floor of marketing efforts including website design, content marketing, and trade show planning. Through her modern approach, she focuses on bringing businesses into the new digital age of marketing through unique approaches and focused content creation. With a passion for communications, she can bring a fresh perspective to an ever-changing industry. Mandy has an MBA with a marketing concentration from Canisius College.