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IVR Adds Value to Patient Care
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IVR Adds Value to Patient Care

March 21, 2012

  By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Interactive voice response technology (IVR) gets the bulk of its publicity through its use in call centers, the IVR technology paired with telemonitoring technology is now helping heart patients.

According to this Mobile Health News report, Geisinger Health Plan, an insurance division of a larger health system, is finding that the IVR and telemonitoring technologies are reducing post-discharge readmissions by up to nearly 45 percent. And nearly 85 percent of the heart patients are hitting compliance rates in the monitoring program.

More than 95 percent of case managers said the IVR technology is helping them monitor patients more efficiently. This process is helping case managers to keep their patients, which can be some of the highest-maintenance patients, out of the hospital.

One of the administrators for Geisinger said that the severity of these heart patients’ conditions requires constant surveillance in order to keep their health in check. When they go un-monitored, it generally leads to hospital readmission, which is a costly occurrence.

One of the drivers that keep hospitals from effectively monitoring these patients and taking on IVR technology is that Medicare no longer reimburses for readmissions that are preventable, if they occur within 30 days of the original discharge.

Geisinger took on a multi-year study that utilized IVR technology. The study used the IVR with Bluetooth-ready scales. The IVR platform was set up so that patients would be asked to enter various information about their current condition/symptoms.

The IVR assisted case managers in adding a level of support to their patients that didn’t exist before, and it helped cut readmissions in half, compared to a control group in the study that did not use the IVR technology.

One case manager in the study said many of the readmissions happen in the first week or two. The IVR technology helped the managers to add more interaction with the patients, which is especially helpful when a patient’s condition is complex and more data helps to narrow the cause of issues occurring with their maladies.

Geisinger now has around 1,000 heart failure patients on a remote monitoring system that uses IVR. They’ve had such success that they’ve begun to give the same remote monitoring IVR technology to patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

With the use of the IVR and telemonitoring, the case managers are tracking patients in real-time and are experiencing more patient-initiated contact, which allows managers to be proactive. Best yet, the case managers don’t view the technology as another pound of weight on their existing workload – it’s merely an enhancement to a process that is saving the company money and giving the patients better care.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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