Emerging technologies target chronic illnesses

A new report from health policy institute NEHI names 11 emerging technologies that could improve care and lower costs for chronic disease patients.

The report, “Getting to Value: Eleven Chronic Disease Technologies to Watch,” published June 12 with support from the California HealthCare Foundation, describes the role of technology in creating value and offers an overview of some of the barriers to adoption.

The "technologies to watch" target a range of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, asthma, stroke and heart disease, and reflect the growing emphasis on empowering patients to monitor their own care through the use of mobile platforms, social networking and home-based telehealth technologies.

"Nearly half of all American adults have at least one chronic illness," said NEHI President Wendy Everett. "And these 11 emerging technologies hold the promise of greatly helping them manage their disease and connect with their doctors in real time."

The 11 technologies on NEHI’s watch list:

  • Tele-stroke care

  • Virtual visits

  • Mobile asthma management tools

  • In-car telehealth

  • Extended care eVisits

  • Mobile clinical decision support

  • Medication adherence tools

  • Social media promoting health

  • Mobile cardiovascular tools

  • Home telehealth

  • Mobile diabetes management tools

"These 11 technologies have the potential to extend care of chronic diseases beyond a doctor’s office to places where patients spend a great deal of their time -- on their smartphones, personal computers and in their cars,” said Everett. “And they are helping physicians get real-time data about their patients and, in some cases, share resources where staffing or financial constraints limit proper chronic disease management."

Everett said the technologies address three big problems currently facing healthcare: chronic disease, quality care and patient engagement.

"…More than 75 percent of the nation’s total medical costs are spent on chronic disease,” said Everett. “Patients need to be an integral part of their care if we are to increase the quality and decrease the cost of care."

Of the 11 technologies identified, the three with the most "significant evidence attesting to their clinical and financial benefits" are extended care eVisits, home telehealth and tele-stroke care, said Everett.

“If successful policy interventions are undertaken to surmount barriers, these [three] technologies would be primed for widespread adoption,” she said. The main benefits of these technologies, according to Everett, are that they don’t have high cost barriers to use; they leverage mobile and telehealth technology and social media for monitoring patient health; and they allow for the collection of aggregate data.

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