By 2025, chronic diseases may affect an estimated 164 million Americans – nearly half of the current U.S. population. To address this looming crisis, WellCare Health Plans, is piloting an in-home telemonitoring program for its Medicare Advantage members with chronic conditions in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. The pilot will include up to 500 members diagnosed with congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Telemonitoring in the home enables live, real-time access to patient vital signs, allowing for immediate medical response to concerning changes. Clinicians triage the vital signs in real time and notify the member’s physician and care team of changes and exacerbations of the member’s condition, which drive adjustments to the member’s plan of care.
Recent studies examined the impact of telemonitoring on the quality, access and cost of care for managing certain chronic diseases. The results were encouraging. The studies showed that the benefits of telemonitoring included reduced hospital admissions and readmissions, reduced length of hospital stays, fewer visits to the emergency department and reduced mortality rates.
Through its interactivity, telemonitoring is aimed at increasing member compliance through education and progress reporting. Through a better understanding of their health condition, members are better equipped to react to symptoms more quickly and correctly, encouraging increased quality of life, comfort and independence.
“Because chronic diseases can be disabling and may reduce a person’s quality of life, WellCare wants to offer convenient treatment options to help our members get the care they need,” said Tim Mullen, WellCare’s Chief Operating Officer for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. “We are partnering with VRI, a remote monitoring company, to provide our participating members with telemonitoring, which increases access to care by enabling our network of physicians to provide greater levels of care and service to these members.”
The program will deploy connected devices to monitor a member’s daily vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, weight and blood glucose levels and provide voice connectivity 24/7 to clinicians.
“We are excited about the opportunity to help WellCare empower its members to take greater control of their health and improve their quality of life,” said VRI’s CEO Chris Hendriksen.
As of June 30, 2016, WellCare serves 98,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members and 41,000 Medicare Advantage members in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.