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