Passive remote patient monitoring (PRPM) has already been proven feasible and easy to use in the senior care industry through multiple studies. And now, evidence from a pilot study conducted in Massachusetts is quantifying the technology’s ability to cut skilled nursing admissions and costs.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that overall health care costs were at least 10% lower for patients who utilized remote monitoring technology, versus those who did not.
Three researchers — Michael Finch and James Pacala from the University of Minnesota, and Kristen Griffith of Allina Health Care — teamed up to conduct the study.
The trio analyzed a sampling of 268 older adults who were dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and were members enrolled in Fallon NaviCare, a Worcester, Mass.-based health care plan for older adults. Patients analyzed were also those who were at risk of falls and wandering, and lived alone.
A total of 74 patients in the intervention group received remote monitoring technology, while 129 declined its use; 65 adults were used as a control group.
Those who received a PRPM system were given passive monitors installed in their homes that tracked activities such as time in bed, toilet use, and opening/closing of the refrigerator. In addition, patients in this group were given an emergency response pendant that worked in conjunction with the monitoring system.
Over the span of 12 months, clinicians monitored both groups. The monitoring system was able to track the daily living behaviors of the intervention group utilizing the technology. The system then generated trending health reports and real-time alerts via e-mail to the clinicians in the event there was a deviation from a person’s daily living behavior, which may indicate worsening of a chronic condition or onset of an acute illness.
To determine the monitoring system’s effect on healthcare costs, claims paid through Fallon NaviCare’s core processing system were analyzed, including claims related to inpatient care, emergency department admissions, long-term care, skilled nursing care, ambulance, home care, outpatient and pharmaceuticals, among others.
The study found that the mean total per-member, per-month costs for the intervention group was $3,649.11, versus $4,223.43 for those who declined the use of monitoring technology, and $4,336.24 for patients in the control group.
While costs for inpatient services, emergency department admissions, long-term care, admissions into skilled nursing facilities and ambulance services were at least 10% lower for patients in the intervention group, home care and outpatient costs were not different compared to those who declined monitoring systems and those in the control group.
Overall, the researchers stressed that the intervention group had fewer acute hospitalizations, emergency department visits, long-term care admissions and days spent in such care.
“The observed savings of $574 to $687 per-member, per-month are notable in magnitude and consistency across different sources of healthcare costs,” the researchers wrote. “These potential savings should be taken into consideration as health systems consider PRPM technologies.”
Written by Carlo Calma