There has been a lot of positive press lately about remote patient monitoring, but many wonder what the news really means for patients. Yes, telehealth can improve efficiencies, reduce rehospitalizations and save money for the healthcare system, but is it actually helping patients?

The short answer is yes — especially for chronic disease patients who require regular monitoring, consultation and education.

There are dozens of statistics available that showcase the efficacy of remote patient monitoring with regard to chronic disease management, but researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Kentucky, among others, decided to explore how well remote patient monitoring programs work in greater detail.

Rashid L. Bashshur, Ph.D., and his colleagues wanted to review and analyze the existing scientific evidence related to the impact of telehealth on three critical issues in healthcare — access, quality and cost — with a focus on chronic disease management. The research looked specifically at patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those who have had a stroke.

The group reviewed every available telehealth-related research paper published between 2000 and 2014 that focused on chronic disease management. Publications were chosen based on the robustness of the studies' research design and the size of the sample group. Each study had to have at least 150 study subjects.

Bashshur and colleagues studied 177 references in total — over a broad range of patient types, level and intensity of patient participation, provider types (nurses vs. physicians with or without an explicit protocol). Their findings resulted in a conclusion that we in the telehealth industry have known for years: remote monitoring and telehealth interaction increase the quality of care for patients and reduce unnecessary service, and therefore, cost.

According to the study's conclusion, "There is an ever-growing and complex body of empirical evidence that attests to the potential of telemedicine for addressing problems of access to care, quality of care and healthcare costs in the management of the three chronic diseases chosen for this review."

Bashshur's study echoes what we have seen in our organization's own studies. Meaningful use of remote patient monitoring and health call center services leads to significant reductions in hospitalization and emergency care visits. It also aids in preventing and/or limiting illness severity and episodes, resulting in improved health outcomes.

More and more, telehealth is proving to be a substitutive practice rather than adding to inefficient services, it replaces them with a more cost-effective solution that a value-based healthcare system will demand.