SAN JOSE, Calif. – An historic shift in moving chronic health care out of the hospital and into the home is going slower than expected but is inevitable, said the chief executive of a company pioneering the field.
“We’ve been fighting this battle for six to ten years--health care doesn’t move fast,” said Kent Dicks, CEO of Alere Connect, formerly MedApps. “We still need more proven test cases, but you will see this come in your lifetime—in the next four to ten years,” Dicks predicted in a talk at the BioMeDevice event here.
Alere Connect makes a range of portable health care devices using a mix of Bluetooth, MICS and Wi-Fi currently used in a range of trials with at least six health care providers. About 100,000 remote patient monitoring systems are in use in the U.S. today, a number that is expected to leap to 1.3 million within eight years, Dicks said.
The systems are primarily used to monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure. They are being employed by a range of hospitals, clinics and health care organizations trying to prevent costly hospital visits as well as by drug makers in clinical trials.
Dicks claimed a “perfect storm” of factors will accelerate the trend including emerging standards and increasingly low cost cellular links.
“Data transmissions for biometric readings that use to cost $5 to $8 now cost $1.50 and they are going to the 20 to 50 cent range,” he said. “When you have that kind of pricing, it’s a game changer."
Regulations and reimbursement practices still don’t widely support remote monitoring services, and some doctors express concern about a flood of real-time data from home systems. As for patients, the 20 percent who consume 80 percent of health care services are typically seniors, the uninsured or homeless.
“For some Medicaid patients we found out the smartphones and tablets we gave them wound up in the pawn shop, so we had to create a non-hock-able device that couldn’t be used for anything but taking and sending readings,” Dicks said.
Two or 3 years ago I attended a Commonwealth Club presentation on the Intel/G.E. joint venture into this area. They have launched a beta test in the Sacramento area about a year ago and certainly have the horsepower to get this going. At the time, the discussion was entirely focused on dedicated hardware: no free smartphones, etc.
As for analyzing the data, the data should be parsed based on an emergency notification, or routine information for the patients' doctors. It will be much easier today and tomorrow (compared to even 3 years ago) to dump the data into a program and have the software sort it for trending and report the results to a real human.
Useful services...but who is going to analyze Petabytes of data created this way when it is massively deployed? the cost of transmission will be close to zero, sure, but about the cost of analyzing the data by a real person? or should we use Watson software for that purpose? Kris
Home patient monitoring is a much needed thing today as the old population is increasing day by day in the whole world and many of these old patients are unable to make frequent rounds of the hospital.
rightly so, the systems used for such patient monitoring should be made fool proof , tamper proof and dedicated to the purpose for which they are installed.
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