Humana, Intel-GE Care Innovations Partner for Senior Telehealth Venture

A nationwide collaboration between insurer Humana and Intel-GE Care Innovations will soon produce data and results on telehealth and its effectiveness based on a 34-state project launched last January involving members who used a home-based telehealth device to manage their conditions, reports Healthcare IT News.

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Humana Cares, a division of the national insurer specializing in complex and chronic care management, introduced a program last January that gave the Intel-GE Care Innovation Guide to 1,000 of its members with congestive heart failure.

The Guide is a telehealth device that connects users with a wide variety of resources and care providers, says the Healthcare IT News, and now that the project has been completed, the collaborators expect to release numbers shortly regarding their findings. 

Produced by Intel-GE Care Innovations, a telehealth-focused joint venture between the two tech giants, the Guide is designed to gather and analyze biometric and other data to help users actively participate in their own healthcare decisions, while enabling clinicians to reinforce behavior and wellness decisions and connect with the patient in the home at any time. Humana’s members are connected to nurses based at its Florida call center.

“What they’ve done is essentially taken care of these patients on a day-by-day basis,” says Louis Burns, Intel-GE Care Innovations’ CEO, who points out that the program isn’t replacing anyone’s primary care provider or causing physicians to lose out on business. “When (the patients) need to get to a doctor, they get to a doctor.”

Kate Marcus, clinical operations manager for Humana Cares, says the project emphasizes “just-in-time teaching,” giving members the opportunity to interact with providers on a daily basis, rather than during less-than-frequent trips to the doctor or when an emergency occurs. By stressing daily healthcare management, she says, both patients and caregivers are able to react more quickly to healthcare concerns and treat them before they lead to more serious problems.

Adds Burns: “What we’re also trying to do is enable confidence in the elders. A lot of them want to live where they live and age the way they want to age, with dignity and confidence.”

While the numbers aren’t in yet—Marcus wants to see at least three months of insurance data before she’ll talk about the project’s effectiveness – past studies and statistics lend weight to its potential. The Centers for Disease Control, in a study conducted in 2011, indicated home-based monitoring could save the nation more than $7 billion through fewer emergency room visits (a figure based on estimates that home health monitor costs about $10 a day, while a night in a hospital’s intensive care unit can cost $10,000 and a nursing home averages $200 per night). Meanwhile, Stanford University evaluated two clinics using Bosch Healthcare’s Health Buddy—a similar device to the Guide—and found savings of between 7 percent and 13 percent per quarter on each elderly patient.

The members involved in the program didn’t want to give up their telehealth devices once the pilot ended, the article notes—potentially a good sign that remote healthcare monitoring could catch on.

Read the full piece at Healthcare IT News.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace