All systems go for mobile health and true connectivity
In an expert view piece, Dana Shears, eMDI business development director of H&T Presspart and Melissa Manice , chief executive and cofounder of Cohero Health, look at how advances in mobile health and connected devices are opening up unprecedented opportunities in the management of chronic diseases.
We are now seeing the potential of digital health being fulfilled when it comes to managing the burden of chronic disease in cost constrained healthcare systems. For patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), technological advances in digital health are making day today monitoring and tracking much easier.
The plethora of medical and fitness apps that are getting to market are impressive technology wise. However, the really exciting potential lies in leveraging connected hardware and mobile technology to improve the management of chronic diseases – daily and around the clock – with the same high level of reliability and security that patients expect from their medication.
This means creating integrated digital health systems that focus on the patient and not just the disease. Connectivity is the key, creating mHealth networks that link the patient, their providers and caregivers to improve care and achieve optimal outcomes.
The $300 billion US cost of non-adherence
When it comes to improving outcomes, one of the biggest stumbling blocks continues to be adherence and the figures are frightening. It has been estimated by the World Health Organization that half of chronic disease medications are not taken as prescribed, while up to $300 billion of avoidable healthcare costs have been attributed to patient non-adherence across all diseases in the USA each year. The cost for Europe is similarly burdensome at 125 billion euros ($132 billion) per year. Looking at asthma alone, it is said that 90% of the 250,000 deaths every year are preventable.
Adherence rates in asthma and COPD have been shown to vary from 22% to a staggering 78%. Despite the obvious damage done in terms of quality of life, the financial cost is considerable – at a cost burden of $92 billion and 82 billion euros in Europe.
The reasons for poor adherence are myriad. Patients may simply forget, for example, or they may not be convinced of the medication’s effectiveness. They worry about side effects or they have difficulty taking the drugs, especially with injections or inhalers.
Whatever the reason, the doctors who treat them, regardless of how strong the relationship is, are still highly reliant on patient self-management and self-reporting. Patients may exaggerate symptoms or minimize them, due to subjectivity of patient recall at the point of care.
Maybe a patient is not taking their medication as directed, or at all, or perhaps their condition is simply getting worse – how is the doctor supposed to know? There are inherent limitations in basing treatment decisions on the imperfect system of patient self-reporting, however the use of smart technologies is turning the latter, a highly subjective process, into a completely objective one decisions can be made using genuine real world data.
H&T Presspart and Cohero Health have sought to address these challenges by developing a metered-dose inhaler connected to a comprehensive respiratory care management platform that can track adherence and measure lung function, and provide real time alerts to patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Through advances in mHealth we not only have the opportunity to encourage adherence and self-care, but, most importantly, to connect and empower all stakeholders to optimally manage the patient, all the time.
We have seen an explosion in terms of innovative medication for chronic diseases and now, with the help of technology, we are getting to the stage where patients can get the right dose at the right time, every time. Furthermore, as well as saving lives, digital health innovation and connected solutions are improving quality of life while saving money.
Digital health is capable of providing cost effective solutions at a time when the demands on health and social care services continue to soar monitoring patients can only help keep them out of hospital beds and emergency rooms.
With a clear shift to value-based care models, digital health can provide solutions to a host of challenges facing healthcare better adherence, objective insights, better patient outcomes and better cost control.
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