Anyone paying objective attention to what the new healthcare legislation has spawned has noticed creative juices beginning to ooze out here and there. To wit: Royal Philips Electronics and its from-hospital-to-home heart patient monitoring technology collection. Two desired endpoints here: Saving lives and saving money.
Next year – if the healthcare legislation stays intact – hospitals that have an inordinate amount of readmissions for heart failure, MI or pneumonia will start losing Medicare reimbursement. Year one: 1%, year two, 2%, year 3, 3%. After that, the list of readmitted conditions grows that can produce a penalty. Medicare has been paying big-time for unplanned hospital readmissions, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine: $17.4 billion in 2004.
Philips unveiled its tech collection at the recent American College of Cardiology conference; the ACC is one of its partners in this endeavor. No doubt critics of physician-industry collaboration will be screaming while reading this – but how else are cardiologists supposed to learn about these products?
The products include bedside monitors with early warning systems; a cable-free progressive care monitoring system; home tele-health system; and a remote cardiac service with diagnostic arrhythmia monitoring and additional patient self-testing.
It’s all about connecting the dots: giving cardiologists insight into how their patients fare when they get home.
But it's also about patient education and better communication among patients and providers along the healthcare continuum – make no mistake, it will always be about these two. We doubt this country would be facing this healthcare debacle if we had a handle on the first issue and had never sacrificed the second.