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Technology vendors and health care providers would love to see hard evidence proving the effectiveness of telehealth. Intel-GE Care Innovations, a CAST sponsor based in Roseville, CA, could be the one to deliver the good news later this year.The Intel-GE Care Innovations Guide is at the center of a 34-state telehealth research project spearheaded by Humana Cares, a division of the national insurer. The project, launched in Jan. 2012, placed the Guide in the homes of 1,000 Humana members with congestive heart failure.
Users can install the Intel-GE Care Innovations Guide on a wide range of computer devices as long as those devices feature Microsoft Windows 7, a secure digital card slot and a webcam. Once connected to the Internet, the Guide:
Humana researchers used the Intel-GE Care Innovations Guide to analyze biometric and other data that study participants collected and transmitted to the insurance company’s Florida call center. In addition, the Guide offered Humana members daily access to nurses at the call center. Call center nurses have “essentially taken care of these patients on a day-by-day basis," says Louis Burns, Intel-GE Care Innovations' chief executive officer. The Humana intervention did not replace anyone’s primary care provider, says Burns. And, it did not keep Humana members from seeing their doctors. What it did, says Humana Cares’ Clinical Operational Manager Kate Marcus, is help members manage their health conditions between doctor appointments. It also gave members more complete health data to share with their physicians when those appointments did occur.
Marcus wants to see more data before she will talk about how effective the Guide has been in managing members’ health conditions, according to Healthcare IT News. However, the enthusiastic response of Humana members has impressed her and others associated with the project. Members do not want to give up the Guide when it is time to remove it from their homes, says Marcus. "We are really seeing how connected the members are to their devices and how connected they are to the nurse,” she says. “Members really liked the opportunity to see and interact with a nurse, and the nurses liked that as well.”
The Humana/Care Innovations project was not the first attempt to quantify the benefits of remote monitoring and telehealth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in 2011 that home-based monitoring could save the nation more than $7 billion by keeping consumers out of hospitals and nursing homes. The CDC research compared the cost of health monitoring ($10 a day) to the cost of a night in the intensive care unit ($10,000) and an average night in a nursing home ($200).