While fiscal, billing and back office technologies universally proliferate home care, only 17% of agencies use some type of telehealth systems. However, 32% of agencies with over $6mm in annual revenue provide telehealth services. Thus, size matters when it comes to home health adopting telehealth technologies.

These are just a couple of many important benchmarks published in the National Study on the Future of Technology and Telehealth in Home Care. Billed as the largest telehealth study in the history of home care, Philips unveiled this report in conjunction with the 13th annual American Telemedicine Association conference in Seattle.

Philips partnered in this research with the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. The survey covers home care and hospice agencies in every state in the U.S. and benchmarks a range of issues including fiscal and administrative; point-of-care technology and clinical software; electronic records; and, telehealth. 

One of the key findings in the study is that clients of agencies — that is consumers, people — rarely refuse telehealth services when offered. 84% of agencies stated that fewer than one in ten patients refused such systems. 2/3 reported that fewer than 1 in 20 people refused telehealth services.

Consumers are clearly ready for telehealth in the home. Such services also increase patient satisfaction, according to most providers in the study. Furthermore, 89% of agencies using telehealth report increases in quality outcomes, and 77% found a reduction in unplanned hospitalizations.

Philips has a large footprint in telehealth. Their offerings include the popularly branded Lifeline medical alert systems, Remote Monitoring solutions for clinicians managing patients at home with chronic conditions, Home Telehealth monitoring (such as cardiac monitoring and implanted device followup), and the recently-acquired Raytel Cardiac Services.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: I can personally attest to the power of Lifeline, which I ordered for my own father when he was managing end-stage heart disease at home. He really appreciated the security and independence the technology brought him. For me, living hundreds of miles away, Lifeline became a core part of a larger strategy cobbled together to help Dad live comfortably at home. Combined with a complement of home care, hospice, physical therapy, and psychosocial visits, Dad’s inpatient admissions were kept to a minimum. However, the challenge with all of this is integration — both in terms of technology and service. Reimbursement for coordinating care at home must be aligned in the best interest of keeping the patient at home and avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.