Remote Health Management for Chronic Illnesses

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By Jason Goldberg
By Jason Goldberg

An estimated 133 million Americans are currently living with one or more chronic conditions – a figure that is only expected to grow as the baby boomer generation ages. Many experience frustration with monitoring and managing their own or their loved ones’ complex medical needs.

The good news is that today health management providers are offering solutions that make it possible for these individuals to manage their health from anywhere, at any time, while also providing important informational updates to their caregivers or doctors. Remote health monitoring has the potential to not only drastically reduce health care costs, but also to improve patients’ quality of life by allowing them to continue living independently at home rather than being hospitalized or moved into an assisted living facility. One such company is HExL, Inc., a leader in telemedicine. Founder and CEO Rick Kimball explains it better, “When it comes to healthcare, preventive measures are just as important, if not more so, than curative ones. Telemedicine and remote monitoring are ways in which technology has enabled us to help keep people’s chronic health conditions stable and to provide patients with better quality of life.”

High blood pressure affects 73 million Americans. As of 2008, the estimated direct and indirect cost of high blood pressure was $69.4 billion, according to the American Heart Association. In an attempt to combat these high costs, the use of home blood pressure monitoring is recommended by several national and international guidelines for the management of hypertension, including The American Heart Association and The American Society of Hypertension.

In one study’s analysis of 904 patients using real-time readings from a remote hypertension management program for six months, the average reduction of systolic blood pressure was 9 mmHg. Controlled blood pressure has been associated with a 35-40 percent mean reduction in stroke incidence and more than 50 percent reduction in heart failure. A 12mmHg drop in average systolic blood pressure will save one life in every 11 treated patients over ten years. This means that in the 904 patient population, almost 40 lives would be saved.

Regarding congestive heart failure (CHF), there are approximately 5.3 million people suffering from CHF in the United States. Among those who are hospitalized for CHF, 47 percent are likely to be readmitted 4-6 months after discharge.

A recent study of 417 CHF patients using a remote health monitoring system proved that this was an effective method to reduce congestive heart failure hospital admissions by 57 percent, demonstrating that these systems can significantly reduce healthcare costs.

For people managing critical conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, asthma or obesity, remote health management can provide relevant, real-time, reliable and actionable data. This can allow individuals to become more engaged and active participants in their own health. It also makes proactive prevention more realistic than ever, as it is instrumental in gauging health issues before critical conditions manifest themselves into acute events.

Patients with a critical illness need to be able to easily follow their care plans and make necessary lifestyle or medication modifications. This can minimize the chance that they will develop additional complications that could further jeopardize their health, thus requiring expensive treatment.

Many remote health management systems not only offer solutions for patients, but for their caregivers as well. Oftentimes caregivers look to technology for assistance in tracking a person’s status or progress, and now computers, smart phones and tablets can enable health care providers to monitor patients in their homes and let adult children and other family members keep an eye on aging parents. When a patient steps on the scale in the morning or checks their blood glucose level before a meal, for example, a designated caretaking team can be notified, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away.

The compact, affordable and easy-to-use devices monitor data and can automatically and wirelessly transmit this information to the individual’s healthcare team without the need for cumbersome wires or manual data entry.

When assessing remote health monitoring systems conducive to travel, it’s essential that they be compatible with various modes of communication such as cell phones, telephone lines and the Internet.

Health care is increasingly top of mind for Americans, as well as those around the world, from physicians and hospitals, to patients and caregivers. If patients with chronic conditions are able to manage them at home or remotely, healthcare costs would likely decrease, people would have better understanding of their own health and their caretaker will be able to have more peace of mind.

IDEAL LIFE President Jason Goldberg oversees overall product development, management and corporate direction. Under his guidance, IDEAL LIFE has grown into a leading global health technology company with the largest implementation of remote health management solutions. IDEAL LIFE is uniquely attuned to the practical needs of today’s healthcare consumers.

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