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CMHC PULSE

Cardio Metabolic Health Congress – Official Blog

Applications of Digital Health Technologies

The primary issue that consumes the majority of the burden of healthcare costs in the United States is preventable chronic disease: while the most prevalent health conditions are simultaneously the most avoidable, they continue to cost the country’s budget billions of dollars. While overall numbers have decreased since 2010, when chronic disease cost the U.S. a total of $315 billion, morbid obesity rates have continued to rapidly spike—a condition that leads to a range of critical health issues including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Primary care providers have long faced the struggle of determining how to implement best practice care for patients diagnosed with chronic diseases. Recent studies indicate that almost half of the entire U.S. population has at least one chronic health condition—including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, or arthritis. Statistics designate these health care treatments costs to account for 86% of cumulative national healthcare spending, and the CDC reports that chronic conditions are the leading causes of death and disability in the country.

Yet the past decade has seen the advent and proliferation of digital health technology, spurring the generation of new techniques and strategies for healthcare professionals to utilize in chronic disease management. These types of technology vary in terms of accessibility and usability, but include remote monitoring, mobile health apps installable on phones, and wireless wearables—which serve as activity trackers.

A series of interviews conducted by Medical News Today demonstrate a bright future for the potential of new technology, and its ability to spur and provide high-quality care. Suzanne Falck, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, noted that a highly successful digital tool is currently in use for the management of heart failure: an implanted sensor immediately transmits data to a healthcare practitioner, who then analyzes the data in order to make medical recommendations. Further clinical trials and studies indicate that remote monitoring is more cost-effective than traditional, conventional management.

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The Economic Burden of Cardiovascular Disease

Despite the extensive literature and research that indicates the preventability of cardiovascular disease, it remains a primary and leading cause of not only mortality & morbidity, but also a tremendous health care cost and economic burden. A Vital Signs report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited that in 2016 alone, myocardial infarction, strokes, heart failure, and other largely preventable cardiovascular conditions caused 2.2 million hospitalizations, 415,000 deaths, and $32.7 billion in costs.

The researchers that conducted the findings estimated that “without preventative interventions, approximately 16.3 million events and $173.7 billion in hospitalization costs could occur during 2017–2021.” Moreover, a second Vital Signs report pulled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the National Health Interview Survey to assess and analyze the pervasiveness and prevalence of critical, key cardiovascular disease risk factors. Researchers found that 54 million adults are smokers, and could likely benefit from smoking cessation interventions. 71 million adults are not engaging in physical activity, and thus more prone to cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, millions of adults are not taking aspirin as recommended; 39 million adults are not managing their cardiovascular disease risk through suggested statin use; and 40 million adults are living with uncontrolled hypertension.

Quoted in an article published in the American College of Cardiology, Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC—executive director of Million Hearts, a national initiative co-led by the CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, initially designed as a preventive measure to combat one million heart attacks and strokes by the year 2022—”Small changes–the right changes, sustained over time–can produce huge improvements in cardiovascular health.”
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