‘As people monitor their fitness levels, they will be motivated to lead healthier lifestyles’
BOSTON – As the CEO of connected health technology company BeWell Connect, Olivier Hua is a big believer in the power of wearable devices and remote monitoring of patients for health prevention. Here’s what he had to say about how wearable devices and other technology are impacting home health.
HHTN: How does technology empower people to take charge of their own health?
Hua: As people monitor their fitness levels, weight and vitals, they will be motivated to lead healthier lifestyles, which will reduce their health care costs. Patients can monitor their own health, while still getting an expert opinion. Even more importantly, patients suffering with chronic health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure can monitor their vitals on a daily basis, while sharing data with their doctors, reducing the amount of doctors’ visits they make. By empowering the patients, home health devices can ultimately give arguments to each individual to better negotiate with the insurers his/her healthcare costs.
HHTN: What are the obstacles to broader adoption of these devices?
Hua: Reimbursement is the key. Traditionally, reimbursement has been limited, so many people must pay out of pocket. Technologies are still fairly recent and are evolving very fast. Few of them were medical grade at the beginning, creating questions and/or doubts of their reliability. As more data and studies come out showing the benefits of at-home monitoring, including the cost savings for the patient and the payer in the long run by being proactive in monitoring, hopefully we will see a shift in the legislation. There’s a bill in process right now that would look to expand reimbursement for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, so that’s a start.
HHTN: What needs to happen for wearable devices to be considered reimbursable?
Hua: The intention of these products is to help people improve their health and avoid a more costly or dangerous problem later, so the devices need to be medical-grade quality and FDA approved. Not all devices are created equal; it’s important the patient is collecting accurate data that he or she can use in conjunction with his doctor to monitor vitals and improve health.
HHTN: How is technology changing the way home health care is delivered?
Hua: Technology is changing the way physicians monitor patients, and it is enabling those with chronic illnesses to monitor their own health at home, while still keeping in touch with their doctors. All medical data recorded is transferred via Bluetooth to the user’s smart phone, which can then be sent directly to the physician, who can intervene if need be. This eliminates the actual trip to the office, but the doctor is, and will still be, involved in the process.