El FDA aprueba los apps del telehealth de Philips

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 02, 2014
Philips' eCareCompanion application
Courtesy of Royal Philips
Royal Philips announced yesterday that two of its telehealth applications — eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion — received FDA approval. The applications are part of the Philips Transition to Ambulatory Care program, which focuses on managing chronically ill patients in their homes, and they are available on Philips' cloud-based digital health platform.

The health care industry is very good at dealing with acute issues — if a patient has a heart attack then they will be transported to the emergency department right away, Manu Varma, head of marketing and strategy at Philips Hospital to Home, told DOTmed News. But as a result, we now have a very large population that is living longer with chronic illnesses.

"As the health system moves away from just worrying about patients when they end up in the hospital to trying to support them while they are home, there is a need for solutions and products like these applications," said Varma.

The eCareCoordinator application is for physicians and it provides them with population health management by giving them access to a review of each of their patients on a daily basis. They get real-time access to objective health data including vital signs and blood pressure as well as responses to health questionnaires that their patients fill out.

The eCareCompanion application works as a patient portal that the patients can log into with a tablet. The patients can answer questions to monitor their health and also request measurements from their physicians. It can connect with medical devices including a weight scale and blood pressure meter and also remind the patient to take their medications.

Telehealth technologies are not new — remote monitoring solutions have been around for a number of years — but physicians still often struggle with creating operating models around these technologies. They have to figure out how to set all of the technologies up, what the protocols are, how to run them, etc.

"We are bringing to market these clinical programs which are essentially operating models for how you support patients at home," said Varma.

These applications are also supporting the new at-home care models like the one that was implemented at Banner Health — an accountable care organization in Arizona. Several hundred patients at the health system are using applications like the ones Philips developed.

The patients can stay connected with their multidisciplinary care team through a video-calling functionality and the team can help them better understand what aspects of their health they should make a priority.

"Ultimately, that means that they don't end up shuttling around unsupported in the health system, they don't end up in the ED as often and they don't end up getting hospitalized as often," said Varma.

Philips will be launching a similar program at Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.

But Varma believes that the health care industry in the U.S. hasn't even scratched the surface of telehealth yet. It's well-known that the U.S. spends a lot of money on health care every year, but Varma believes that telehealth will play a big part in bringing those costs down.

"More and more we are going to see that happen and I'm absolutely certain that in the next three-odd years any reasonably sized [health system] will have a comprehensive strategy for how to incorporate telehealth into their models of care," said Varma.

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