Despite the growing popularity of remote patient monitoring (RPM) and home-based care delivery, the barriers that prevent widespread adoption of these solutions still remain.
No one understands this better than Current Health, a company that has made enabling health care in the home its key area of focus.
“I think that there are two major barriers that come to mind,” Dr. Adam Wolfberg, chief medical officer at Current Health, told Home Health Care News. “As physicians, we learned how to take care of patients largely in person. The transition to taking care of patients virtually — leveraging data we can collect from platforms like Current Health — and interaction on telephone is still a sort of a new thing for physicians.”
Based in Boston, Current Health has a software platform and a variety of connected devices that measure vital signs in the home and send data to health care providers. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) acquired Current Health last year.
Now, the company is a $400 million organization and a major part of Best Buy Health’s strategy. Current Health enables health systems such as Mount Sinai, Geisinger, Vanderbilt, HealthFirst, Parkland Hospital & Health System and UMass Memorial to deliver health care in the home.
Wolfberg believes that clinicians need to become more comfortable with the practice of delivering care in a virtual environment.
“I spend a lot of my time working with our clinicians to talk not about the deployment of technology, but the practice of medicine in a virtual environment,” he said. “I think that those conversations are ongoing at every health system that aspires to meet their patients where they are.”
The second barrier Wolfberg noted was that not all patients have the technical access to virtual care and RPM.
Solving the issue of lack of connectivity is one of Current Health’s value-adds as a company.
“We provide connectivity so that the patient can connect to their health care provider, whether or not they have a smartphone, whether or not they have home internet,” Wolfberg said. “Those sorts of technical barriers remain in place for many patients. We as an industry need to work on knocking those barriers down.”
Another barrier that Current Health is tackling through its services is language, according to Wolfberg.
“Not every patient speaks English, and not every patient who speaks English reads English, so our technology is available in dozens of languages,” he said. “We have team members on staff who are incredibly knowledgeable … and it’s not sending someone to a third party call center, we make sure we can solve problems for patients in real time.”
Being able to leverage Best Buy’s infrastructure has also allowed Current Health to beef up its services. The company’s plans to lean on Best Buy’s scale and resources.
“There’s a Best Buy big box store within 15 miles of 75% of the population in the United States,” Wolfberg said. “There are 20,000 Geek Squad members. We are working really hard to take advantage of that infrastructure that is in everybody’s backyard to make sure the devices, the knowledge and the services they need to keep care in the home are available to them anywhere. That’s one of the really exciting aspects of the merger that we’re going to be rolling out in the coming months.”