Chronic diseases contribute about 90% of the annual healthcare spend in the United States. Cardiovascular diseases account for a significant portion of that – more than any other chronic condition – and result in a death every 36 seconds.
There are many variables that can contribute to the prevalence of heart conditions, including other chronic conditions – like diabetes – as well as lifestyle factors, like weight, unhealthy diets, low activity levels, and more. These factors can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and other conditions that often lead to more serious conditions that require regular monitoring, hospitalization, or surgery.
Connected health offers an opportunity to treat these patients – whether they have been identified as high-risk or are recovering from procedures – effectively and efficiently, helping provide higher quality of care without increasing the burden on physicians.
Virtual Access to Cardiologists
Telehealth can increase access to cardiologists. From doctors’ offices or even smaller hospitals, digital health tools – like electronic stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, ultrasound machines – can be used by local staff to manage on-site exams, while a cardiologist participates remotely. The specialist can listen to audio, view scans and vital signs, and even perform visual exams using high-definition cameras. By performing these examinations remotely, patients can avoid unnecessary travel and costs, as well as scheduling complexities, and may only need to travel to a hospital to see specialists if a procedure is required or for more advanced testing. At the same time, physicians are able to work more efficiently and, specialists, in particular, are able to help more patients. Additionally, primary care providers and small hospitals can provide valuable service to which their patients otherwise may not have access locally.
Remote Recovery and Treatment
Connected healthcare can allow patients who have undergone heart procedures to receive ongoing monitoring and treatment from their home environments – avoiding repeated trips to physicians’ offices or hospitals. Remote patient monitoring devices – connected devices that read and transmit patients’ health data – can help regularly update providers on patient conditions and track their recovery progress. Depending on specific needs, some devices can be worn by patients and monitor patients automatically, while others require daily or more frequent use by patients to deliver data. Telehealth tools like patient portals and voice or text-based messaging can allow providers to remind patients to record their readings if the forget.
For patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or other conditions that could put them at risk for more serious conditions, remote patient monitoring can provide an opportunity for physicians to monitor health data for warning signs of worsening conditions, allowing early interventions to revise treatment or medication and hopefully avoid hospitalization. One study reported that telehealth reduced readmissions by 89% and emergency department visits dropped by 49%.
Quality of Life
Connected health solutions not only help increase the data available to physicians to monitor patient conditions, but they allow this data to be collected and transmitted from patients’ homes, rather than constantly having to make appointments and travel to doctors’ offices. The increased volume and regularity of data, along with the reduction in travel, can help patients and their families enjoy a higher quality of life from fewer office visits, better monitoring of conditions, and data-driven outcomes. The additional benefit is the increased interaction with connected health tools can help patients become more engaged in their own healthcare.
By using connected health devices and the data they provide, combined with telehealth tools like virtual visits, providers have an opportunity to treat patients effectively while reducing costs and workload. At the same time, patients experience high standards of care in more convenient settings.
To learn more about how connected health solutions can help treat patients with heart or other chronic conditions, visit us here.