Chronic Disease? There’s An App For That: 11 Hot Techs To Watch


Fifty percent of Americans have some sort of chronic disease, from high blood pressure to diabetes to asthma, and their care accounts for some 75 percent of the nation’s medical costs.

So the more powerful our arsenal for treating chronic diseases, the better, right? Especially if the weapons can be as simple as an app or a little desktop gadget. NEHI, a national health policy institute based in Boston, has just put out a report on what’s new and what’s coming soon in technology for chronic disease patients, and many of the ideas sound so cool that they prompt my familiar lament: “Why is our health care system not already doing a lot more of this?” Also, “Where do I sign up?”

“These tools help the patient take their care into their own hands,” said Erin Bartolini, NEHI’s lead researcher on Getting to Value: Eleven Chronic Disease Technologies to Watch. “They can better understand their disease, have more educated discussions with their health care providers. It can really empower the patient to take control.”

She kindly translated the full run-down of all 11 hot new technologies into easy-to-understand terms. They are categorized based on the available data on how well they work and how much money they save:

Extended Care eVisits – If you’re a patient in a nursing home or other long-term facility, you can converse with a doctor through a video portal on a pushcart or a robot.

Home Telehealth – Once you leave the hospital or doctor’s office, and you go home to manage your chronic disease in your daily life, you can monitor it with tools — such as desktop devices that measure blood pressure or blood sugar levels — and send the data automatically to your doctor, to catch issues early.

Tele-Stroke Care – If you’re having a stroke and you go to a hospital that has this technology — a “telemedecine” connection to a hub center staffed by stroke specialists — they can offer an expert assessment of how you should be treated.


Mobile Clinical Decision Support– Using devices such as tablets or smartphones, doctors can access the latest protocols or treatment regimens for their patients. Continue reading

NEHI: How To Save $84 Billion In Wasted Health Care Spending

NEHI, a Cambridge-based non-profit focused on innovation in health care, has just put out a three-pronged plan for cutting wasteful medical spending by $84 billion a year nationwide.
In brief, according to NEHI:

Emergency Department Overuse: More than half of the 120 million annual ED visits can be avoided, representing a $38 billion opportunity for savings. Potential solutions address specific recommendations to improve the primary care system and employ primary care alternatives such as tele-health technology and retail clinics. Proposed policy recommendations include specific pathways to reforming payment structures for providers and providing financial incentives for patients. Continue reading

NEHI Goes Pure Acronym

A recent NEHI round table on patients who fail to take their medication

It’s pronounced “Knee high,” as in “knee high to a grasshopper.” A non-partisan, non-profit outfit based in Cambridge, it’s a prominent member of Boston’s rich brain trust of researchers and thinkers trying to figure out how to make the system of medical care better. And it’s now shifting its name to pure acronym — that is, NEHI no longer officially stands for New England Healthcare Institute– because more and more, it’s going national.
From a fresh-off-the-presses release:

“The name change to NEHI from the New England Healthcare Institute builds upon a strong brand and better reflects the national scope of our work,” said NEHI President Wendy Everett. “We have been called NEHI informally for years and today we make it official.”
The name change to NEHI will be coupled with a marketing campaign called “NEHI: Taking It National.” The campaign supports events and activities related to NEHI’s research that will take place around the country in 2011 for NEHI’s members and other national health care stakeholders.
NEHI works within three broad areas to address key issues in health care: promoting medical innovation, improving quality and efficiency, and fostering wellness and prevention. As a member-based organization, NEHI brings together diverse perspectives from the health care community to find mutual solutions to shared health care problems.

NEHI’s website is here. By the way, it’s in good company. As I recall, BMJ used to stand for British Medical Journal, but now is considered simply BMJ. And AARP is “formerly the American Association of Retired Persons,” though that may not comfort the new-minted 50-year-olds who get the dreaded AARP cards in the mail.