Telehealth technology by itself is destined to expand, and with that comes the prospect of cutting health care costs — especially for those who suffer from chronic illnesses. One way to make that prospect a reality is to combine telehealth tools with better care management, according to a report in the latest edition of Health Affairs.
Researchers discovered that the Health Buddy Program, which encompasses a “carefully designed and implemented care management-telehealth” model, produced substantial Medicare savings for a number of ill patients in two Northwest clinics.
The patients in the Health Buddy Program had spending reductions of about 7.7% to 13.3%, or $312 to $542 per person, per quarter. The results were obtained by comparing patients in the Health Buddy Program versus those in control groups.
Considering that the treatment of chronically ill patients is responsible for four-fifths of U.S. health care spending, the concept of better care management and emerging technology such as telehealth could help bolster the care delivery system, which is deemed “hampered” by the Health Affairs report.
Although the program has telling results, it only scratches the surface of potential financial solutions in today’s chronic care space.