CNBC: Telemedicine Allows Seniors to Age in Their Homes

The use of “telemedicine” is growing as a way to safely keep seniors in their homes, writes CNBC in a recent article profiling a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit’s usage of a remote monitoring system.

Lutheran SeniorLife offers its clients the use of the MobileCare Monitor, a monitoring device that can alert community staff if a resident falls. The nonprofit began using the system two years ago for clients of its home- and community-based care program.

“It quickly became apparent just how handy the system would be, the day the nonprofit relocated 24 former nursing-home patients to a low-income senior housing complex as part of a pilot program,” writes CNBC. “One of the frail residents toppled out of bed the day of the move. Since that point two years ago, the percentage of patients that the organization has had to move into nursing homes has dipped from 20 percent to 12 percent, according to [medical director at Lutheran SeniorLife George] Brett.” 

Out of the 500 people enrolled on the senior living provider’s LIFE programs, which include medical care, adult day care, and home care to seniors with medical challenges, 40 use the MobileCare Monitor System, enabling them to stay out of a nursing home. 

“There’s a big cost savings, too. Although Lutheran SeniorLife’s LIFE programs spent a few thousand dollars to install AFrame Digital’s Web-based system in each of three low-income senior complexes and pay $400 for each patient’s wrist monitor and subscription charges, Dr. Brett insisted it adds up to “peanuts” compared to the cost of moving someone into nursing-home care,” says CNBC.

That’s because the provider’s LIFE programs get reimbursed a flat fee of $3,400 a month for each Medicaid beneficiary’s care, no matter their care level. For participants who can no longer stay safely at home and move into a nursing home, the LIFE program has to pay $7,500 a month, with no additional reimbursement from Medicaid. 

Other medical providers in addition to senior care communities are looking into telemedicine, spurred by health care reforms under the Affordable Care Act and evidenced by the market’s rapid growth. 

The global telemedicine patient monitoring market more than doubled between 2007 and 2012 from $4.2 billion to $10 billion, says CNBC, citing a 2012 report from medical market research firm Kaloroma Information.

Read the full article at CNBC.

Written by Alyssa Gerace