Health care providers are increasingly adopting telecommunications tools that allow them to stay connected with their patients, Modern Healthcare reports.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is working to create a 10-year health IT interoperability roadmap that is scheduled for release early in 2015. An October draft of the plan included a target to have individuals routinely “accessing and contributing” to their electronic health records by 2017 to 2020. In addition, ONC is considering requirements that EHR developers add application programming interfaces to the systems to allow mobile applications to link to the EHRs.
Telecommunications Tools Details
According to Modern Healthcare, a shift toward performance-based payment models and accountable care organizations is partly driving the adoption of new technologies.
Joe Smith — chief medical and science officer for West Health, a not-for-profit that promotes the use of mobile health technology — said, “If you fully take in what ACOs have to do — manage patients (who are) not in front of them — then you’re immediately drawn to (these) tools.”
For example, one tool adopted by Geisinger Health Plan uses Bluetooth-enabled scales to monitor the weights of heart failure patients. According to Geisinger Health Plan Director of Population Management Partners Doreen Salek, such technologies have led to:
- A 44% reduction in 30-day hospital readmission rates;
- A 38% reduction in 90-day hospital readmission rates; and
- An 11.3% reduction in per member, per month costs over a five-year period.
However, there are obstacles to widespread adoption of such technologies.
Nathan Lacktman, health IT specialist and partner at the Foley & Lardner law firm, said insurers often offer “a patchwork” of coverage for the technologies. He added, “I have some clients that are able to negotiate payment for telehealth services from some payers,” but he noted that without state requirements that insurers cover the services, “you won’t see any meaningful telehealth adoption” (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 11/29).
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