Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have found that a person living with diabetes who uses an mHealth platform for care management can save upwards of $80 a month in medical costs.
People living with diabetes who use an mHealth platform for care management are saving roughly $88 a month in medical costs during their first year of using the technology, according to a new study of medical claims.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Medical Economics, finds that patients using digital health tools that include wireless devices and a telehealth link to their care providers can cut about 22 percent of their monthly medical expenses through better care management. Those reduced costs also translate to better long-term health outcomes and more efficiency in the doctor’s office.
The study, conducted by researchers at the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Berkeley, is the latest to tout the benefits of a fast-evolving mHealth market for diabetes care management, which aims to tackle a projected $500 billion health bill by 2020, when some 39 million Americans are expected to have the chronic disease.
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The main thrust of the research is that real-time care management can reduce costly health outcomes by allowing both the patient and the care team to monitor and adjust treatment on the fly.
“As new mobile technologies become available to help people better manage their chronic conditions, there needs to be reliable data on the association between the use of these technologies and medical spending,” Christopher Whaley, PhD, an assistant adjunct professor of health policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Our goal with this study was to evaluate the impact of these technologies.”
Those technologies were provided by Livongo, the California-based connected health company launched several years ago by former Allscripts CEO Glenn Tullman, the father of a son with diabetes. Conducted with help from Eli Lilly and Company, the compared blood-glucose readings and medical claims data from some 2,200 people enrolled in the Livongo for Diabetes program against some 8,700 people with diabetes in one of three health plans funded by self-insured employers between June 2014 and January 2018.
Whaley and his colleagues pointed out that while other studies have tied mHealth to better care management and outcomes, this research adds a price tag to those improvements – something health plans are sure to notice.
“Self-insured employers, at-risk providers, and payers have financial incentives to find solutions for people with diabetes through novel technologies for diabetes self-management that are clinically effective and cost-effective,” they concluded in the study. “Previous studies have examined the impact of the program on the likelihood of low (< 70 mg/dL) and high (> 180 mg/dL) blood glucose values and remote coaching on clinical outcomes. This study extends these papers by examining the financial impact of the program and the association between blood glucose control and medical spending.”
Date: May 16, 2019