Telehealth for chronic care management: Remote patient monitoring devices and beyond
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began reimbursing for some chronic care management services in 2015, contributing to the expanded adoption of technology that falls under the chronic care category.
In recent years, we've seen a proliferation of wearables, remote patient monitoring devices, apps and telehealth technology. Even simple activity trackers have gotten more attention as useful tools in the fight against chronic disease. A study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, for example, found that the use of activity trackers contributed to the self-reported general health, physical function and fatigue levels of patients with ischemic heart disease through what appears to be improved adherence.
To support effective use of and innovation around remote patient monitoring devices, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has continually funded a range of research projects aimed at improving care for patients with chronic disease. These projects encourage the implementation of technology solutions, health information technology adoption and change management, usability and system design, and the sustainability of health IT efforts in chronic disease management.
The results have been promising. Technology has fostered earlier detection, increased access, and patient empowerment across a range of diseases. Take a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease diagnosis, for example. New entrants such as portable COPD testing devices allow testing to occur at the point of care with diffusion capacity testing, spirometry and full lung volumes evaluated in just 20 minutes. Other examples of improved outcomes thanks to technology include reliable fall detection systems, enhanced and successful weight management.