Telehealth the way forward for chronic disease treatment – Australian report

  1. Telehealth has been confirmed as the way forward for sustainably treating the leading chronic diseases in Australia says a report published following a scientific study. The study, which analysed the effects of monitoring a mixed group of patients with chronic conditions using home-based telehealth equipment, concludes that use of home-based telehealth will not only reduce the hospital admissions but will also reduce the length of stay when admitted. The analysis of the data from the trial has shown that for chronically ill patients, an annual expenditure of AU$2,760 could generate a saving of between AU$16,383 and AU$19,263 representing a rate of return on investment of between 4.9 and 6. This is equivalent to a saving of AU$3 billion a year, says the report.

The Australian study, carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is reminiscent of UK’s Whole System Demonstrator (WSD), the world’s largest randomised control trial of telehealth. Although the Australian study is much smaller with a total of 287 participants over 5 sites (covering the 5 States) compared with over 6,000 in the WSD, the principles are similar. Due to the smaller sample sizes and the need to have patients connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) the selection of patients was not random but other techniques were used to obtain statistically significant results. Patients selected had unplanned acute hospital admissions indicationg one or more of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertensive Diseases, Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes and Asthma.

The TeleMedCare Systems Clinical Monitoring Unit (CMU) was used as the home-based unit although not all features offered by the device were utilised in this study. The CMU system deployed in this study was developed in Australia, registered with TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and has been extensively used and tested in previous trials.

Typically patients would have some or all vital signs measurements scheduled at a convenient time, typically in the morning. These measurements were blood pressure, pulse oximetry to measure arterial blood oxygen saturation, ECG (single channel), lung capacity, body temperature, body weight and blood glucose concentration. In addition to scheduled times, patients could take their vital signs at any time. A full suite of clinical questionnaires was also available.

The full report Home Monitoring of Chronic Diseases for Aged Care is available to download here.

Saneth Wijayaratna

We have to report the sad news that Saneth Wijayaratna died recently after a very short illness

Many readers will have encountered Saneth particularly in his roles leading TeleMedCare’s UK sales, as CEO of United Health in the UK and latterly as CEO, then Chief Scientific Officer, of InHealthcare. No-one can have failed to be struck by his dedication to improving the health & care of patients at home, or of his excellent understanding of the way his products worked. He will be greatly missed.

We are still awaiting news of his funeral arrangements which we will post here as soon as received.

A random walk through ATA 2014

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ATA_Button_color_filled.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Editor Donna attended ATA 2014 on Monday only. This article is a set of impressions (mainly) of the exhibit floor and visits to a number of select booths.

Donna, it’s Baltimore. You’re not in NYC or Las Vegas.

Arriving after a long trip to a city you used to visit regularly, but haven’t been to in over 30 years, is disorienting, especially when you are heading on a fair spring day to a section that didn’t exist then. The Inner Harbor and Camden Yards resemble Atlanta, not necessarily a bad thing since the parts of ‘Charm City’ they replaced were largely past ‘gentrification’. The Baltimore Convention Center was unexpectedly huge, the distance to registration made longer by a taxi driver who dropped me off at another entrance two blocks away. Any resolve I had to drop in on the many educational sessions was dissuaded by the sheer length of the halls. The thick Exhibit Guide confirmed that the show floor filled two city blocks–a challenge to cover and spend time with my appointments before the close of the day.

Was it a hardware show, a software show or somewhere in between?

You could make a case for both views. One observer I walked with at the start compared it to a radiology trade show–all hardware. Yet a closer look indicated that the hardware–the PCs, tablets and smartphones–was there to show software that integrated: systems to track patients, distribute information, workflows, store and forward images and reports. It was about enabling secure consults, platforms, interoperability, two-way data flows, mitigating readmissions and putting telehealth, telemedicine and education into provider and patient hands. It was also about making the business case. It was most definitely NOT about gadgets and single purpose peripherals, though the latter were still quite visible. The old picture of telehealth closed systems, of proprietary monitoring devices feeding data onto a proprietary PC platform where it’s seen by a care manager, is so 2011.

Noteworthy: the growth in specialized services like telepsychiatry, teleneurology, teleradiology and teledermatology. Contrast: despite VGo‘s ubiquitous telepresence robots accosting you on the floor, a tablet-faced robot following a nurse down the hospital hall and ‘consulting’ with patients will likely still be a rarity.

Patient engagement on top

Traditional telehealth device makers are connecting their devices and opening up their reporting platforms to be accessible to patients. But there are bumps along the way in this transition. A&D Medical has gone ‘Wellness Connected’ with a mobile app (more…)