Technology is transforming healthcare just as it has transformed everything else. New telecommunications technologies have great potential to improve access to care and improve health outcomes, plus lower costs. Humana has embarked on more than a dozen pilot programs to test the possibilities, and preliminary results are promising.
Physician-to-patient telemedicine experiences aren’t meant to replace in-person visits. But they certainly have the potential to be an important means for diagnosing routine ailments, providing follow-up care and managing chronic disease.
Telemedicine can also save money and make care more convenient. A person in a rural town could consult with a big-city specialist. For example, a person with a chronic condition and a history of frequent emergency room use could confer first with a physician via home computer or tablet.
In the first quarter of 2014, Humana embarked on two telemedicine pilots:
A number of other projects—including pilots with hospitals and integrated health systems—are in development. The goal: partner with providers to help them expand their capabilities, which will help our members as well.
For patients suffering from debilitating chronic conditions, one major challenge is staying out of the hospital. Receiving care at home improves quality of life and saves money at the same time. Humana is testing different kinds of remote monitoring technologies and their usefulness to different groups within the Medicare population. “I am a believer that telehealth will transform how we take care of people,” says Dr. Eric Rackow, president of Humana at Home, who is leading the effort for Humana.
Here are a few examples of Humana’s remote-monitoring pilots.