Telemedicine, remote monitoring help reduce healthcare costs

By: Dave Fornell

In response to tightening profit margins in healthcare, the adoption of telemedicine and remote monitoring technologies is accelerating as a strategic move to cut costs and maintain quality care outside of traditional hospital settings. 

This trend was highlighted by Joel Sauer, MBA, executive vice president of consulting at MedAxiom, an American College of Cardiology (ACC) company, during a recent interview with Cardiovascular Business at the ACC.24. He said the expansion of telemedicine is driven by the need to improve patient outcomes while reducing the financial burden on healthcare systems. 

“There has just been an explosion in the number of these companies that are now developing technologies, and they are not doing that on a whim. They are doing it based on where they are feeling very confident in the trends in that direction,” Sauer explained. 

He said these technologies also help patients take greater ownership of their care. “The more that I can help myself as a patient, the better off I will be. Because no matter how good the health system is, it’s going to have gaps,” Sauer said. 

He emphasized the critical role of these technologies in modern healthcare. Examples of this trend include the use of telehealth visits, remote cardiac telemetry monitoring of patients at home rather than being admitted to the hospital for observation and the use of home monitoring or wearable technologies to monitor blood pressure in hypertension patients.

Remote monitoring allows for continuous patient care without the need for frequent hospital admissions, particularly for chronic conditions like heart failure. “We are working on ways to say, do I even need to admit these heart failure patients? Can I keep them at home, deliver as good or better outcomes for the patients at a lower cost threshold?” Sauer said. This approach is essential for bending the cost curve in healthcare.

Telehealth opens up healthcare access to more patients 

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the viability of virtual care, highlighting its potential to provide high-quality healthcare remotely. Since the end of the pandemic, healthcare organizations like the American Medical Association have fought to keep telehealth reimbursements in place. 

“We learned through the pandemic, if you can look for a silver lining, that you can deliver high-quality healthcare through virtual means. It allows us to extend and fix a big discrepancy in healthcare, which is access,” he said.

Access to healthcare remains a significant issue in the United States, with some patients unable to reach necessary care due to financial or logistical barriers. While virtual care cannot completely solve these problems, it can significantly alleviate them by providing cost-effective alternatives. “We spend more than any country, but we don’t deliver the results of other countries. And if you look at the sources of it, it is directly because of access. Virtual cannot solve it, but it can go a long way to alleviating it and it’s very inexpensive,” Sauer concluded.

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