Pilot Telehealth Program Reduces Costs, Hospitalizations, and Readmissions for Complex, Chronically Ill Patients

Thirty-day readmission rate is cut by 75%

Royal Philips, a health technology company, and Banner Health, a nonprofit health care system headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, have reported positive results from a study of their Intensive Ambulatory Care (IAC) pilot telehealth program. The findings showed significant reductions in both patient health care costs and hospitalization rates.

The IAC pilot program treats patients with complex medical situations due to multiple chronic conditions. Across the nation, these types of patients generate 50% of overall health care spending, according to Royal Phillips.

In the study, Philips and Banner examined 128 patients who had at least one year of pre-IAC and one year of post-IAC follow-up to determine the prolonged effect of the IAC program on patient outcomes. The analysis of results during the first full year of the program showed that the IAC program helped:

  • Reduce overall costs of care by 34.5%. This cost saving was driven primarily by a reduction in hospitalization rates and days in the hospital, as well as by a reduction in professional-service and outpatient costs.
  • Reduce hospitalizations by 49.5%. Before enrollment in the IAC program, there were 10.9 hospitalizations per 100 patients per month; after enrollment, the acute and long-term hospitalization rate dropped to 5.5 hospitalizations per 100 patients per month.
  • Reduce the number of days in hospital by 50%. Before enrollment, the average length of stay in the hospital was 60 days per 100 patients per month, compared with 30 days after enrollment.
  • Reduce the 30-day readmission rate by 75%. The 30-day readmission rate went from 20% before enrollment to 5% after enrollment.

The one-year post-IAC follow-up results from this study are significant, according to Phillips, because they provide an accurate picture of day-to-day patient outcomes of the IAC program. The longer patients with chronic conditions are monitored, the company says, the more difficult it is to sustain or improve outcomes because of multiple factors, including the increased chances of chronic conditions worsening and the so-called Hawthorne effect, in which research participants alter their natural behavior in the short term because of their awareness of being evaluated. As time passes with this psychological phenomenon, participants are gradually more likely to forget that they are being evaluated and act naturally, instead of trying to present their best behaviors.

Source: PR Newswire; January 23, 2017.