An Accenture programme in the Basque Country in Spain has published preliminary findings showing that the introduction of telehealth and patient engagement tools have reduced costs, improved patient outcomes and decreased emergency admittances.
With an average life expectancy of 81.2 years, the Basque Country in Spain ranks third behind Japan and Hong Kong in longevity, and 18% of the 2.2 million people in the Spanish Basque Country are over 65.
However this has led to a high frequency of chronic diseases. For example, 80% of patient interactions with the public health system concern chronic diseases and drive 77% of total health expenditures. Health management for patients with multiple chronic conditions, which are more common among older people, costs six times as much as those with only one such condition. Analysts expect the region’s healthcare costs to double by 2020, outpacing taxable affordability.
Working with the public health provider Basque Country Health System, Accenture created a multi-channel platform incorporating telehealth and patient engagement technologies to make the health system more productive. The project increased the productive capacity of nurses and extended the reach of physicians by introducing innovations like remote consultations. It also shifted responsibilities to patients, giving them self-service solutions and establishing a home-based, telehealth platform. Called TeKi, the platform makes it possible for care providers to manage chronic diseases from the patient’s home.
TeKi enables doctors to monitor patients remotely and to conduct virtual appointments with them. In the process, physicians gather insights comparable to those captured during face-to-face visits. Likewise, nurses can remotely track and monitor their patients’ progress via the same platform. Combining two familiar technologies—televisions and gaming consoles—TeKi offers user-friendly access to medical staff. Each patient receives a heart-rate monitor and a spirometer for checking respiratory efficiency. Both plug into the system. Used in conjunction with the gaming unit’s motion sensor, TeKi sends the collected data to the doctor in real time. The physician then analyzes it, prescribes treatment and issues prescriptions. All of these activities take place remotely.
Accenture report that in the first year, this approach reversed the trend in annual healthcare cost increases and reduced prescription costs by 2.5 percent. One in five patient interactions with physicians now occurs remotely, and many physicians can track patient symptoms using remote tools. In combination with 12 other projects, the TeKi pilot saved USD 55 million by eliminating 52,000 hospital stays.
More information about the project can be found on the Accenture website here.