Digital health programs are a proven solution for patients with chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD, demonstrating improved adherence to therapy and decreased hospitalizations. Until now, lack of reimbursement has limited access to these programs for one of the populations most impacted by chronic respiratory conditions – older people.
Our latest webinar hosted by HLTH explored the new digital health access and engagement landscape, examining the benefits of remote monitoring for older patients and understanding the outlook on adoption of this option for clinicians. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the discussion:
Age contributes to respiratory health disparities
Age is one of the factors that can make seeking or benefiting from healthcare more difficult. Age may be associated with less mobility, reduced or fixed income, unfamiliarity with technology, cognitive challenges, limited social interactions and reduced access to support groups – common trends observed among older patients with respiratory disease.
Older patients with asthma are more likely to be under-diagnosed, under-treated and hospitalized than younger patients. Among patients over 60 years old with COPD, prevalence is two to three times higher. With the number of American adults over 65 years old expected to increase by 2060, we anticipate even greater demands for effective healthcare, both at home and in-person.
Remote monitoring improves outcomes and increases engagement among older populations
Digital health platforms that enable remote monitoring are proven to improve outcomes by providing clinicians objective data for clinical oversight and decision making. Propeller Health studies have demonstrated that remote monitoring programs can lead to improved medication adherence, reduced rescue use and more symptom-free days.
Aggregated data across users of the Propeller digital health platform showed that adherence rates were highest among adults over 60. Propeller data also showed that older adults were more engaged with the platform and more likely to use the platform consistently than their younger counterparts.
Barriers to remote monitoring adoption still exist, despite changes in clinician attitudes
Clinicians are starting to see the benefits of remote monitoring more clearly, understanding that digital health data can be used to deliver effective healthcare, even when a patient is not physically in the clinic. This is important, as clinicians are vital in raising awareness of digital health among their patients. However, health systems and clinics still often face barriers to its adoption.
One institutional barrier is lack of preparation for implementation, which can cause disruptions to workflow. Health systems and clinics hoping to more fully integrate remote monitoring into their practices must be proactive by building their workflows around digital health use. That way, when the appropriate billing codes become available, clinicians will be prepared for a new reimbursement model and better equipped to advocate for digital health adoption by their patients.