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Aetna and Intel Join Efforts on Study to Promote Healthcare Device Monitoring – Another Study

Posted Jun 10 2010 10:49am

This is another study in the effort to promote devices that report data for preventive healthcare.  I like technology and all it can do for us but am still cognizant of appropriate implementation efforts that protect privacy and methodologies that are done correctly so we are not introducing disruptions that the general public will grow to hate.  When studies as such are published, they become the basis for roll outs of devices and programs that sometimes are not always thought through from start to finish and how it will be combined to work with day to day routines.  Some wellness programs have even given participants discounts on their premiums if they choose to hook themselves up.  image

A secondary area of concern here too is the privacy issues as many insurers are buying up wellness companies and how safe and secure is your data?  In other words who exactly gets to see your data, and there are many gray areas here to think about.  In a related post, Blue Cross has contracted with IDEAL LIFE for home scale monitoring.  One reason given for the scales is that monitoring one’s weight and noticing a sudden gain of weight could indicate potential heart problems, but on the other hand it could simply identify someone who decided to “pig out” too, so do we send in the guards for that too? 

Again, all the monitoring devices can in fact be useful to help both the patient and doctor side of care, but the element of “non trust” still remains as we have had years of such information used against patients to deny care and drugs where the patient is made to feel like a villain simply because they have current health issues and that’s the part of the equation that is in essence stopping more from participating.  The insurance companies have nobody else to blame here for this public opinion as they created it by operating strictly with “cost and scoring algorithms” and cancelling policies when people needed care the most. 

I would expect an announcement down the road based on when the study is published to see Aetna perhaps exploring the same avenues as Blue Cross as they run the algorithms for profit, and if insurers were perhaps non profits, the element of trust from the American publish might improve, but right now due to past history this all looks like “big brother” efforts in order to secure data to “score” and asses what your cost will be, not necessarily how to improve your health, but if some of that happens along the way, they can claim success.  image

Wireless devices that record and report data have truly been overlooked in their roles for the goals in establishing “meaningful use”.  BD

Hartford health insurer Aetna Inc. and microchip-maker Intel Corp. say it is possible for care providers to remotely intervene to treat elderly Americans with chronic heart ailments in their home, reducing their need for costly hospital visits.

Both companies shared initial findings from their 18-month remote-intervention study Wednesday during America's Health Insurance Plans Institute conference in Las Vegas. Final results are due later this year.

"Evidence shows that traditional nurse care management programs have improved outcomes and reduced avoidable hospital admissions among Medicare beneficiaries with [chronic heart failure]," Randall Krakauer, M.D., Aetna's national Medicare medical director, said in releasing the findings.

Aetna believes teaming heart patients with its nurse case managers "will be more successful managing their health," Krakauer said.

The Aetna-Intel study is based on 364 Aetna members on Medicare who suffer chronic heart problems who were given blood-pressure monitors and weight scales to monitor their vital signs, information the patients entered mostly daily onto their home computers.

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