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Most benefits executives plan to use remote patient monitoring more in the future, according to a survey from Employer Health Innovation Roundtable and Hello Heart.

By ELISE REUTER, MedCity News, February 8, 2021

Since the start of the pandemic, more healthcare providers have been using creative means to manage patients’ health at home. For example, Seattle-based Providence St. Joseph Health sent home-based Covid-19 patients pulse oximeters and thermometers to share updates with nurses multiple times per day. Other hospitals rolled out at-home cardiac rehab programs for patients who would normally attend them in person.

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded coverage for remote patient monitoring before the pandemic, the rise of at-home care and telehealth use has driven new interest. In a recent survey, most benefits executives indicated that they expected for their members to use remote monitoring as much or more in the future.

The Employer Health Innovation Roundtable and Hello Heart surveyed 100 benefits executives from 68 self-insured Fortune 500 companies. 65% of them plan to see remote monitoring use increase, while 18.5% said they expect it to remain the same as during the pandemic.

The survey also found that the most important consideration for employers was finding a solution that could be integrated with their existing vendors and systems (31%), followed by best clinical outcomes (29%).

“There’s a lot more interest from health plans and employers this year,” Hello Heart CEO Maayan Cohen said in an interview.

Last year, CVS Caremark added Hello Heart to its platform for PBM clients to make it easier for employers to contract with third-party apps.

Driving that trend is the uptake of telehealth visits, along with new reimbursement codes.

“Because telehealth is becoming so accessible, it now faces new limitations. For example, not being able diagnose a patient without a validated blood pressure reading,” she said. “You can make a telehealth visit more significant than basically a triage.”

Companies were also surveyed on whether they saw an increase in catastrophic events related to heart disease last year. An equal number of them said they didn’t see an increase, or that it was too early to tell (44%), while 11% reported that they had seen an increase.

“We did see a spike (in blood pressure) at the beginning of the pandemic when people were more socially isolated. We’ve also seen a spike around election day,” Cohen said.

Hello Heart is one of multiple digital health companies offering wellness programs for managing hypertension. Users receive a blood pressure monitor along with a connected app and coaching to keep track of their blood pressure, along with their pulse, cholesterol, weight and hemoglobin A1c results.

Last year, the startup also added a feature to detect arrhythmias when users measure their blood pressure. Hello Heart said all of this information can be shared with patients’ clinicians.

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