Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston recently launched a pilot program that uses biosensors to monitor patients with conditions like heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). After being admitted to the hospital for an initial screening, patients who volunteered for the study were sent home with a skin patch that tracked vital signs, sleep patterns and daily movement. They were also given a tablet to communicate with their care team.
Dubbed “The Home Hospital" project, the initiative led to a 52 percent reduction in the cost of care for these patients compared to similar patients who remained at BWH (the home patients did receive occasional in-person visits from physicians and nurses). “For many conditions, a home hospital will transform our concept of safe, high-quality and cost-effective care," said David Levine, MD, MA and the physician and researcher who led the program.
Kristina Redgrave agrees that since costs associated with chronic disease management continue to climb every year, biosensors may become the solution that no provider can do without. She sums up the challenges and opportunities of biosensors when she says: “It's an easy-to-implement disease management tool. I don't think biosensors will ever get to the point where human intervention becomes unnecessary, but they are and will continue to make those interventions more effective—and they should make them more affordable as well."