The Economic Benefits of Telehealth for Respiratory Disease Patients

Telehealth has played a vital role in connecting patients with respiratory conditions with their hospital team from the comfort of their own home. Until recently, these patients always had to commute to meet with their care team to test their lung function or have routine checkups. Between the visits no data was available to optimize the treatment or identify risk situations early.

Now with the improvement of technology and new solutions like NuvoAir’s Digital Therapeutics Platform “Aria”, patients and caregivers can access a virtual clinic and regularly monitor their lung function, symptoms and/or other vital parameters without the necessity of in-person visits. As of today, there are few studies that outline the medical and economic benefits related to self-management and digital therapeutic solutions. Research performed thus far have concluded with promising results and a bright future for respiratory management.

We have summarized three recent telemonitoring studies on Asthma, COPD and Cystic Fibrosis that have shown how technology can improve lives and help reduce the cost of care by up to 3,600 € per patient per year:

A study titled “Telemonitoring in Cystic Fibrosis: A 4-year Assessment and Simulation for the Next 6 Years”, was performed at the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu in Rome Italy.

The hospital examined collected data (including home-spirometry) related to the clinical improvement of patients with Cystic Fibrosis during this time. Over the course of 10 years, patients used a telemonitoring system to prove the sustainability of the methodology behind patients and doctors sharing results via a phone call. They discovered the potential savings of over 36,000 € per patient over the course the study. This translates into savings for the hospital 3,600 € per patient, per year.

Results from the study suggested that telemedicine can not only improve the overall health of CF patients but is also a relatively cheap and potentially sustainable solution compared to standard clinical trials.

CF patients are not the only ones who have benefited from telehealth solutions. A study performed at the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands titled “Online Asthma Management for Children is Cost Effective” showed a similar outcome. During this study, 210 children with asthma were randomly selected to participate and divided into two groups of asthma management.

Group one continued to attend four monthly out-patient visits where asthma control was assessed with an asthma control test and group two participated in a virtual clinic where their visits were reduced by 50% and their results were monitored online. Not only did the children in the virtual clinic group have better ACT/C-ACT scores and more symptom free days per month but their costs were also decreased during this time. Considering both direct and indirect costs, the virtual clinic lead realized savings of over 170 € per patient in a 12 months period.

Due to fewer outpatient visits, group two came also out with lower costs and lower travel expenses.

A similar study in Germany was performed for COPD patients. The study was titled Health-economic evaluation of home telemonitoring for COPD in Germany: evidence from a large population-based cohort. This study analyzed the effect of Europe’s largest COPD telemonitoring pilot project associated with medical costs, health resource utilization and mortality for 12 months. This pilot comprised of 651 telemonitoring participants and 7,047 individuals in a standard care group.

The results concluded that telemonitoring cut total costs on average by 895 € per patient per year compared to the standard COPD care. For severe patients, the cost savings were even as high as 1,056€ per year. Those enrolled in the telemonitoring group used healthcare related to COPD less with shorter hospital stays along with seldom inpatient stays and emergency room visits.

While the respiratory disease community is still in the process of running studies that outline the cost-effectiveness of telemonitoring, all studies thus far have highlighted the health and economic benefits of using telemonitoring. NuvoAir is not only enabling telehealth but we also collect outcome data through home-spirometry tests and an algorithm based self-management application. We are on the quest to further cut costs for respiratory care around the world.