Connected Health: When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Connected health, a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare remotely, is not a new concept in healthcare.  It may include the use of telehealth, remote monitoring, or disease management or lifestyle technologies.[1]  Its adoption has been slow, but connected health advocates are about to get lucky – years of preparation is meeting opportunity in the form of alternative payment models.

Benefits of connected health: Connected health technologies offer the ability to deliver high-quality health care in a cost-effective way.  They have been proven to reduce hospital admissions and readmissions; improve access to care in remote locations and areas with physician shortages; empower patients to participate in managing chronic or acute healthcare conditions; and increase patient satisfaction with the care they are receiving. 

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield introduced telehealth visits in 2013.  This graph illustrates where individuals using the Aetna telehealth option would have gone for care in the absence of telehealth.  To understand the financial savings associated with this option, one need only consider that Aetna pays an average of $49 for a telehealth visit.

Goals for alternative payment models: These are the same goals associated with alternative payment models.  Whether it is an accountable care organization, a patient-centered medical home, a bundled payment model or any of a variety of other types of alternative payment models, all are focused on

  • reducing costs,

  • improving quality, and

  • enhancing patient satisfaction.

Increasingly, these models require providers to assume greater financial risk for accomplishing these objectives; however, they’re given little time to develop strategies to do so. 

In many ways, the speed at which payers are transitioning from fee-for-service to pay-for-value is outpacing the ability of our legacy systems and business processes to support the goals and expectations of these models of care.  Connected health technologies offer an immediate way for providers to engage their patients, better manage populations with chronic conditions, and reduce health care costs. 

The next steps in connected health: Realizing the full potential of these innovative solutions will require investments not only in technology, but in the redesign of business processes as well. 

Providers must have procedures in place to not only collect data from remote monitoring devices, but to respond to the information received in a timely manner.

It may be necessary to reconsider practice patterns and staffing models to support telehealth visits.

The use of connected health technologies in Episodes of Care payment models could be extremely valuable, but it will require collaboration among those involved in a particular episode of care to fully leverage the value of remote monitoring devices and patient-generated data.

Have you considered using connected health technologies to help you meet the goals of your alternative payment model? 

If so, how? 

Are you tracking the impact to your costs?  Healthcare outcomes? Patient satisfaction?  What are you learning? 



[1] Wikipedia.

HIMSS; revenuce-cycle management