El Camino Health is launching a remote patient monitoring program that uses an mHealth app to check in on pulmonary care patients at home. The California-based two-hospital health system will use the connected health platform to monitor daily activities and care management needs for patients with COPD, asthma and other respiratory illnesses through the 2 BREATHE, app, developed by Conversa.
The system-wide rollout followed a successful pilot program that saw 85 percent of patients use the app on a regular basis – averaging 15 chats during the 90-day program – and a 94 percent patient satisfaction rate.
“We looked to Conversa’s high-touch care platform to help us reduce 30-day readmissions and shorten the length of hospital stays for patients suffering from COPD,” Cheryl Reinking, the health system’s Chief Nursing Officer, said in a press release. “The results were so impressive that we decided to move from pilot to a full rollout of offering 2 BREATHE Chat to inpatients and outpatients.”
Unlike programs that require care providers to check in with patients on a daily basis, the telemedicine platform being deployed by El Camino uses virtual health assistants to engage with patients and gather health data. The platform uses AI technology to personalize the interactions, ensuring that providers get the data they need to make care management decisions.
mHealth devices – such as wearables, blood glucose monitors and digital inhalers – are also giving providers relevant data in their quest to improve patient care outside the hospital or doctor’s office.
In a study recently published in Environment International, researchers from the University of California campuses in Berkeley and San Francisco and the CommonSpirit Health system found that care providers could manage and track the onset of asthma symptoms in patients using mHealth-enabled inhalers. The devices, developed by Propeller Health, captured the exact date, time and location of medication use and allowed providers to connect that information to increased ozone levels.
“The data we are now able to collect and analyze on environmental conditions helps us more closely engage with our patients so we can help keep them healthier and improve their quality of life,” Rajan Merchant, MD, co-author of the study and a practicing physician and asthma expert at the Dignity Health Medical Foundation in Woodland and Davis, which is part of CommonSpirit Health, said in a press release. “Incorporating digital health tools into medical treatment allows us to extend care beyond the clinic and deepen our understanding of how patients are impacted by the environment on a daily basis.”
The study targets not only a pain point in chronic care management – patient monitoring and care management at home – but a particularly costly condition. Asthma care management costs roughly $82 billion a year, much of it in hospitalizations and ER visits that could be reduced through effective care management.
“There’s been strong evidence that air pollution leads to more emergency department visits, hospitalizations and mortality for asthma patients, but it’s been very difficult to measure its effect on daily symptoms,” Meredith Barrett, PhD, the study’s co-author and head of population health research at Propeller Health, said in the press release. “By using sensors to passively collect data on the time and place of symptoms, we can draw a clearer line between pollution and poor health.”
The two programs show that mHealth platforms in the home enable care providers to gather specific data that can be used to personalize care management plans, with the goal of increasing patient engagement and improving clinical outcomes.