Finally an encouraging long-term, large N study on telehealth reducing same-cause hospital readmissions. Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health Plan, the managed care arm of integrated health system Geisinger Health, has released findings from a four-year (2008-2012) study of 541 GHP Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with congestive heart failure. Hospital readmissions after 30 days were 44 percent lower and after 90 days 38 percent lower. Return on investment: “for every $1 spent to implement this program, there was approximately $3.30 return on this investment in terms of the cost savings accrued to GHP.”
Patients were assigned case managers and provided with a relatively simple program combining Bluetooth-connected weight scales and interactive voice response (IVR) calls to answer questions such as shortness of breath, swelling, appetite and on prescription medication management. The case managers used a platform to aggregate the data and to evaluate out-of-range changes; if so, a primary care team worked with the member to provide care. Unlike other studies, candidates were not selected immediately post-discharge; patients in the study were referred into the program by their doctors or identified through their claims data, and not all were with the program for the full four years for various reasons. iHealthBeat, FierceHealthIT, Mobihealthnews. To be published in Population Health Management (release December).