Remote Monitoring Slashes Readmissions 40% for UVA Health

As federal payors continue to push the national health system toward value-based purchasing with financial incentives for coordinated care, major hospital systems are partnering up with businesses that can improve patient outcomes after a discharge.

Locus Health is one of those companies that provides coordinated care with remote patient care management technology. The Virginia-based company provides programs that aim to reduce readmissions, improve health outcomes and optimize patient management and engagement. With a web-based technology, Locus Health’s clinicians work with other health providers.

The patient care management company has undergone another successful round of funding, raising $4 million at the beginning of the year. A significant investment came from University of Virginia Health System (UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia. The hospital system has been a significant investor in the Locus Health and has participated in a study while utilizing the technology.

Over the two-year study, Locus Health enrolled more than 80% of the eligible patients in their program, and the initial results have revealed positive patient outcomes and cost savings.

The data revealed that readmissions for Medicare patients with select conditions fell by 40% over two years with the use of Locus Health’s program. This study target patients with five specific conditions: AMI, heart failure, pneumonia, COPD and joint replacements. For joint replacement patients, the results were even better, with a 64% reduction in readmission rates for UVA during the course of more than a year.

These conditions are currently being targeted by Medicare under bundled payment rules to reduce admissions and tie costs together or a single period of care, Andy Archer, co-founder and senior vice president of Locus Health, told Home Health Care News.

The program’s biggest emphasis is on reducing these hospital readmissions, which can result in costly penalties for health systems.

“From UVA’s perspective, the readmission penalties are real, and hospital systems all over the country have come to realize that Medicare means business with respect to the penalties,” Archer said. “There’s a really strong financial impact that accompanies what is a really great, very positive impact on patients and patient care.”

The results of the study were better than the targeted rate of reduction—originally 20%—and show the impact of coordinated care on both patients and costs.

One of the most important cornerstones of the program is getting patients involved in it. To coordinate care, providers need to have information about their patients. Patients that are participating in the program by engaging with the technology can help their clinicians keep track of their health and avoid readmission down the road, even without visits from a home health agency.

“It speaks volumes in terms of the outcomes when you look at the level of patient engagement that was achieved across the board,” Maggie Short of UVA told HHCN. “They committed to being active participants on a daily basis, sending in their metrics, taking calls from the clinician and responding to calls. It takes a patient to be pretty committed to be engaged in some level of activity around this self-management on a daily basis.’

Not only are the outcomes more cost effective, but UVA is seeing some positive changes within patients themselves.

“A number of these patients before the program were, to some degree, resigned to this revolving door of readmission,” Archer said.

With a high rate of engagement, 96% of patients said they were satisfied with he program in a survey.

Written by Amy Baxter