As digital health technologies continue to mature, providers have more and more opportunities to access an array of patient-generated data – much of which is gathered remotely via a person’s wearable, blood glucose meter, or other connected health device.
Patients are continuously collecting valuable information about their health outside of the four walls of the doctor’s office, and this information can be critical in making more personalized care decisions and improving patient outcomes. Patient-generated health data (PGHD) enables providers to identify health trends over time and react proactively to negative health events, demonstrating more effective interventions and treatments and fewer hospital readmissions. Today, PGHD is being applied within remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs to better coordinate post-acute care plans and chronic disease management programs.
PGHD in Chronic Care and Post-Acute Care
For people managing complex chronic conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, healthcare can feel episodic: treatments are largely based on data collected and conversations had only during doctor’s appointments, meaning behavior occurring and data being gathered in daily life is largely unseen by the doctor. Patients can easily feel disconnected from their doctor in between appointments, and critical information about their diet, exercise, blood glucose or blood pressure levels are not monitored by clinicians.
Likewise, for patients leaving the hospital after an acute health event, many are left to manage their health and recovery using only the paper guidelines they received from their care team during their hospital visit, without any continual communication to ensure healthy behavior and adherence to the care plan.
Remote patient monitoring programs that leverage PGHD serve as a link between the care team and the patient outside the doctor’s office – allowing for passive or active monitoring of the health data a patient is collecting and sharing with their provider. If a provider sees a quick increase in weight for a patient, or a trend over time of high blood glucose levels in the evenings, they can leverage this information to start a conversation, intervene, or potentially alter treatment plans. Importantly, this gives physicians the ability to provide care proactively – often preventing an acute health event or readmission from occurring and enabling the provider to give patients advice and support to better self-manage their health.
CASE STUDY: PGHD Lowers HbA1c Levels and Reduces Subsequent Healthcare Costs
A study examined the effects of telehealth interventions on controlling diabetes and the potential cost-savings to the health system. Both the intervention and control groups were asked to continue their usual health routines. Participants in the intervention group received a tablet computer equipped with software for vital sign monitoring, videoconferencing, health questionnaires, educational videos, and information sheets. Participants also received a blood pressure monitor and glucometer that were Bluetooth-compatible and were asked to monitor blood glucose and blood pressure at least three times weekly. PGHD was sent to a central computer running monitoring software and was checked by care coordinators daily, who held monthly consultations to discuss monitoring results, progress toward goals, health education, and the development of self-management strategies. When compared with baseline, the HbA1c of patients in the intervention group decreased significantly at the six-month endpoint. The control group’s HbA1c remained unchanged. Total healthcare costs in the intervention group were significantly lower compared with the cost of typical care.
PGHD to Improve Patient Engagement
When patients are generating their own data that is then seen and utilized by their care team, they are enabled to be more engaged in their care. With ownership of this PGHD comes better accountability and a sense of involvement, meaning patients are active participants in their care, rather than simply the recipient of a treatment.
In fact, a recent survey showed that patients are more likely to collect PGHD and share it with their provider if they believed it would be used in their care. When a patient is more engaged in the design of their treatment plan, they are empowered with the skills, ability, and willingness to manage their health and act on providers’ recommendations. Ultimately, this results in improved care plan adherence and improved health outcomes.
Driving Results with PGHD
With the growth of value-based payment models, reimbursement is becoming possible for providers seeking to incorporate PGHD into remote care programs. With this, along with continued demonstration of the clinical, financial, and operational value of PGHD in RPM, we are likely to see the growth of such programs in order to more successfully provide comprehensive care to a higher number of patients more efficiently. To learn more about the benefits of PGHD in remote care settings and read more case studies, read the latest white paper.