The subject of Chronic Care Management is getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason. With the adoption of the Affordable Care Act and new Medicare reimbursement standards from CMS, the industry is moving away from traditional fee-for-service toward a more encompassing fee-for-value model.
As the management of the chronically ill transitions away from clinics and hospitals to become increasingly home-based, the use of electronic sensors that collect biometric data will be crucial for the next generation of Chronic Care Management. Devices like blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, and weight scales all can be equipped with wireless remote sensors that capture biometric readings and send them to a system that can then act upon the data; automatically issuing alarms and instructions if readings are out of range.
But despite the available technology, the fact is that most patients today are asked to collect and report their readings manually. As a result, patients often include incorrect data; sometimes by mistake, but often deliberately to make their health appear better than it is. Biometric sensors can change all that by automating the collection of data and ensuring more accurate patient information.
Sensors make the collection of biometric data more accurate and reliable, but it will take a higher degree of device interoperability to make it work for high-risk patients and providers. Consider a chronically ill patient with COPD that is on oxygen at home. They must provide oxygen level readings via an oximeter, as well as blood pressure readings and their weight. The sensors are separate devices and do not talk to each other, requiring the patient to collect and communicate each bit of information manually.
We need better industry standards regarding sensor interoperability. That is why West supports The Center for Medical Interoperability, an organization working to accelerate the seamless exchange of healthcare data and sensor information. Organizations like the Commonwell Health Alliance are devoted to making health data available to patients, clinicians and providers regardless of where care is sought or given. Groups like Health Level Seven International are focused on developing standards for data exchange and interoperability in Healthcare.
Interoperability is crucial for next generation Chronic Care Management and at West we are doing our part. We help organizations to better activate and engage patients beyond the clinical setting through a unique combination of patient-based technologies focused on delivering solutions that solve complex communication challenges. When it comes to sensor interoperability our ultimate success industry-wide depends upon making advances on a number of related technical fronts, including medical devices, electronic health records and the technical infrastructures powering our health systems.