Nov 15, 2012– Stuttgart, Germany (Techreleased) – Bosch Healthcare, Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and the Robert Bosch Hospital (RBK – Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus) in Stuttgart launched the „Alltag mit Telemedizin erfolgreich meistern“ (A.T.e.m.) care provision program („Coping with everyday life with telehealth support“). The program provides Germany-wide support for 171 critically ill TK patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Patients participating in the program use the Bosch Telehealth system to answer questions about their respiratory condition, vital signs such as oxygen saturation and information about their general state of health on a daily basis. This information is sent daily to the telehealth center at the Robert Bosch Hospital, where it is evaluated by qualified medical professionals in order to identify relevant changes in the patients’ health and, where necessary, contact the patient or attending physician. With the Telehealth system, which is simple and intuitive to use, patients also receive specially prepared information about coping with their medical condition, avoiding relapses and enhancing their quality of life. Support for patients in the one-year program is written into an integrated medical service contract in accordance with Section 140 SGB V (Book Five of the German Social Insurance Code).
Success factors for targeted support of high-risk patients
“Our goal is to respond to a worsening in COPD patients’ condition early on and spare them avoidable stays in hospital wherever possible,” explained Thomas Heilmann, responsible for the program at TK. He added that this was also relevant from a cost point of view, given that each of these hospitalizations entails an average cost of 4,000 euros.
“To ensure the program’s success we specifically target critically ill patients whose potential for a worsening of their condition, also called an exacerbation of COPD, is assessed as being particularly high,” Heilmann said. This is based on a specially developed predictive modeling to identify patients at risk of requiring acute hospital treatment in the near future.
“The cooperation partners consciously build on working closely with general practitioners and respiratory physicians across Germany. Without the support of local doctors, who know the patients personally and monitor their progress, a decisive component of the telehealth program would be lacking“, said Prof. Dr. Mark Dominik Alscher, Medical Director of the RBK. The program therefore supports medical practitioners in recognizing trends in the phases of the disease and provides opportunities to optimize care processes.
High patient and physician engagement
“The acceptance and engagement of the participating policyholders is very high and initial feedback from those registered in the scheme is broadly positive,” says Thomas Heilmann. “We therefore anticipate that we will quickly reach the 300 patients required for the evaluation. It is then planned to assess the benefits of the program compared to a randomized control group.”
To be able to participate in the program patients need the approval of their doctor. The high engagement of 81 percent of healthcare providers exceeds our expectations,” Dr. Ralf von Baer, managing director of Robert Bosch Healthcare GmbH, adds. He sees this as pointing to a growing acceptance of telehealth solutions among the medical profession.
Medical Director Alscher on first experiences with direct patient care through the thelehealth center: “Patients participating in the program appreciate the targeted approach and information. They place a high level of trust in the staff from the telehealth center, show high adherence and as a result feel more confident in their familiar home surroundings. First results show that intensive telehealth care helps stabilize patients’ condition.”
COPD third most frequent cause of death in Europe by 2030
Surveys conducted by the Federal Statistical Office indicate that 80 patients die from COPD every day in Germany alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) anticipates that by 2030 COPD will be the third most frequent cause of death in Europe after heart failure and stroke (World Health Statistics). According to estimates, more than six million people in Germany are currently suffering from COPD (based on the BOLD study, Geldmacher 2008). However, only around 1.5 million of these have been diagnosed (Chapman 2006).
Approximately 100,000 COPD patients are currently registered with the Techniker Krankenkasse alone (of a total of around eight million policyholders).
Successfully implemented in the USA for over a decade
This program builds on the Bosch Healthcare Telehealth system that has been implemented internationally for over a decade. As well as COPD the Bosch Healthcare system is also used to successfully monitor other chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes. “Here we go a long way towards living up to Bosch’s vision of “Invented for life”,” explains Dr. Jasper zu Putlitz, president of Robert Bosch Healthcare. Referring to the further rollout in Germany zu Putlitz says: “We are expecting other health insurance companies and insurers – also for other chronic diseases – to participate in our telehealth infrastructure in the near future.”