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IVR - IVR Facilitates Remote Patient Monitoring
April 11, 2012

IVR Facilitates Remote Patient Monitoring

By Deborah Hirsch, TMCnet Contributor

What would you think if a technology could reduce the chances of a patient having to return to the hospital by almost 50 percent?

If you’re using a remote patient monitoring and care management program implemented by Geisinger Health Plan, with technology provided by AMC Health, that’s what’s going to happen, according to a company press release.

 The press release says that the program has shown a 44 percent reduction in hospital readmissions.

This is important because readmissions are expensive. A report by Jenny Minott shows that hospitalizations are approximately 31 percent of total health care expenditures. According to Minott, 18 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, costing $15 billion in spending. 

But new remote monitoring, or telehealth, technology allows patients and healthcare professionals to be connected anywhere, any time. 

The Geisinger Monitoring Program (GMP) uses interactive voice response (IVR) to Bluetooth-enabled scales from AMC Health that automate the collection of patients’ clinical information, allowing care managers to better follow up with at-risk patients for 30 days after being discharged from the hospital, according to the press release.

“That first week or two post-discharge is when you really see readmissions happening,” said Joann Sciandra, RN, director of case management and strategic planning with Geisinger Health Plan, in the press release. “Having the ability to have a couple more touches or encounters with that patient makes this a very valuable tool.”

The two-year old program was introduced to see whether the use of IVR technology for certain Geisinger patients would be enough of an incentive to use it for all, compared to patients who did not receive IVR follow-up.

Two-thirds of healthcare providers are now using telehealth solutions to stay in touch with their patients to to stay on top of and avoid the kinds of crises that sent patients back to the hospital in the past.

“The program is as simple as it is elegant,” said Maria Lopes, MD, chief medical officer with AMC Health, in the press release. “In an environment where you already have superb care management… how can we use technology to create a more scalable and cost-effective way of integrating that information with the care manager to use nurses much more productively?”

In the past, nurse and care managers needed to take as much as 30 minutes of their time for each patient discharged, following up with them. Now these healthcare providers are freed to follow up with those patients most in need of intervention, according to the press release.

“We really wanted to do something around transitions in care,” Sciandra said in the press release. “By having someone to hand off the patient to for outpatient (management) we are able to prevent some of those problems we had in the past.”

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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