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Chronic pathologies: how to relieve hospitals without losing sight of patients?

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The combined effects of an aging population and the increasing incidence of chronic diseases are leading to more hospital admissions. This situation is increasing the pressure on already overburdened care facilities. The challenge for hospital systems is to avoid service overcrowding – especially in the current pandemic context -, without sacrificing the care of their patients. How to relieve the hospitals while ensuring patient follow-up? Here are some answers.

Increase in the number of chronic pathologies

Leading cause of death in the world according to the WHO, chronic diseases are responsible for 63% of deaths. Heart failure, diabetes, COPD, cancer… the management of these pathologies must be carefully reviewed, with the aim to better the patient’s quality of life, through an adapted continuum of care.

Nowadays, the therapeutic follow-up of most patients with chronic diseases aims to maintain a stable condition, through drug and surgical treatments, but also through prevention advice to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Care is provided during periodic consultations throughout the year and during hospitalizations, which are often too numerous. For several chronic pathologies such as heart failure, respiratory failure or even cancer, these hospitalizations are often associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

Ageing population

In the next 40 years, the number of people above the age of 65 in the European Union is expected to double, increasing from 85 million in 2008 to 151 million in 2060. Considering the fact that this population consumes more care and that it often experiences chronic diseases, its care constitutes a challenge for hospitals. The issue at stake is to implement more precise and personalized long-term monitoring systems to manage patients at home, and only admit to hospital those who really need it.

Avoid (re)hospitalizations whenever possible

Readmissions are taking a toll on national health budgets, which are already under pressure due to increasing demands and rising healthcare costs, a situation that is expected to worsen in the upcoming years. The development of ambulatory surgery and the shortening of the average length of stay are part of the measures implemented, but they will require increasingly precise home monitoring.

Ultimately, hospitals should be able to limit readmissions and maintain sick people at home by guaranteeing them a high-quality follow-up, to avoid a saturation of the care system. In France, a study conducted on 1,000 patients aged 75 and over admitted in nine hospitals in an emergency, showed that 14.2% of patients had to be readmitted within 30 days, unexpectedly. Implementation of procedures ensuring patient mobility and independence in the 24 hours following surgery, clear communication with patients, close monitoring of their health status in the two weeks following their discharge from the hospital… Several factors have been identified to anticipate health deterioration and avoid re-hospitalization.

Chronic pathologies: how to ensure remote patient monitoring?

Monitoring patients by implementing new home health devices can help avoid unnecessary (re)hospitalizations. Remote patient monitoring is an effective response to this issue as it allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients remotely, by having access to physiological data in quasi-real time. Reducing office visits, anticipating worsening of the patient’s health status, making early diagnosis, improving the patient’s quality of life by ensuring a real continuity of care… all are advantages guaranteed by the implementation of a remote monitoring system.

To be truly useful to healthcare professionals, without constituting an additional workload, it is preferable that remote monitoring be based on a multiparametric device, supported by a comprehensive service providing complete care. This kind of solution allows the remote surveillance of patient’s physiological variations, without impacting their quality of life. Electrocardiogram, respiration, temperature, pulmonary impedance… recent technological breakthroughs make it possible to equip medical devices with multiple sensors, providing healthcare professionals with relevant data for diagnosis. In the long term, chronic conditions could benefit from a more personalized, regular, and accessible monitoring.

Aware of the necessity to relieve hospitals while guaranteeing an efficient monitoring of patients, Chronolife has developed a connected smart t-shirt, able to continuously collect 6 physiological parameters, throughout the patient’s daily life. Machine washable and easily “forgotten” by patients, this medical device is easy to wear and constitutes a reliable tool to implement remote monitoring.

Eventually, the adoption of such solutions by care systems should lead to a better management of patients with chronic diseases and secure homecare for sick and frail people, ensuring a continuum of care between hospital and home.

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