HCF expands health monitoring in the home

Health insurer HCF is rolling out what it calls is the largest ever telemonitoring program in Australia, partnering with health management company Healthways and Telstra to provide wireless monitoring devices for use in the home.

The rollout follows a trial last year of a mobile glucometer for people with diabetes in association with the My Health Guardian program, which provides a web portal, mobile apps and nurse-led support and advice for people with chronic illnesses.

Healthways also provides a portal for patients in the South Eastern Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Hunter New England Local Health Districts to augment telephone-based health coaching services under the NSW chronic disease management program telephone support service.

HCF, which in addition to insurance runs the Manchester Unity retirement and aged care business subsidiary, began trialling the use of Bluetooth-enabled devices for chronic disease patients last year. Data from the glucometers was automatically sent by smartphone to Healthways for routine monitoring.

In an expansion of this trial announced last week, HCF will provide a number of different WiFi-enabled devices such as weight scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers and oximeters. The medical devices interact wirelessly with a Telstra machine-to-machine device, and the data is then transmitted through the Telstra Next G mobile network to Healthways.

Nurses can monitor the results over time and intervene if changes occur.

Telstra and Healthways signed a three-year agreement in May last year to move much of Healthways ICT infrastructure onto Telstra's cloud services.

Early last month, HCF renewed its contract with Healthways for a further five years. The My Health Guardian service first launched in 2009 with telephone support from nurses, along with web-based personalised health coaching for 41,500 HCF members with chronic conditions.

It is also used for the rest of HCF’s more than 1.5 million membership to provide access to health risk assessments, health coaching and customised health records, which are based on Healthways' Embrace clinical information system.

HCF also offers a My Health Guardian mobile app for iPhone and Android that links to the portal and provides motivation, daily actions and reward functions.

HCF has conducted studies on the demonstrated benefits of the program, which it says includes improvements in perception of health scores and medication management and reductions in smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet.

It has also published a study in a peer-reviewed journal of patients with heart disease and diabetes, which showed the program helped reduce lower hospital admission and readmission rates and average length of stay over 12- and 18-month periods.

The extended telemonitoring service will in time provide bio-metric monitoring combined with telephone-based health support from registered nurses to approximately 3300 HCF members in their homes.

HCF managing director Shaun Larkin said the My Health Guardian service supports more than 25,000 HCF members to manage a chronic condition.

“This new telemonitoring program will help a significant proportion of these people gain better control of their chronic condition and live healthier lives,” he said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Phil Coppin 2013-08-08 14:38
It is fantastic to see a medical insurer get behind this technology.

The single largest impediment to the uptake of RPM technology has been the cost, because unfortunately the chronically ill are usually socio economically disadvantaged by their condition.

All wee need is more insurers and dare I suggest Medicare to include coverage and we could see a huge reduction in heath care costs as we better manage the health of the systems biggest users.

The various departments of health have been asleep as far as the benefits of RPM are concerned, so congratulation HCF!

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