Insurance giant Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and health technology company Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG) have teamed up to give Humana’s Medicare Advantage (MA) members 24/7 access to care via remote patient monitoring.

The move reflects the continued adoption of remote patient monitoring and telehealth, especially when it comes to the MA landscape.

“Payers are increasingly recognizing the value of strategic population health management and its ability to influence high-risk, high-cost populations at scale,” Derek Ross, business leader for Philips’ population health management segment, told Home Health Care News in an email.

Humana is one of the largest health companies in the U.S. — a mix of both payer and in-home care provider. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, which includes in-home care entities Kindred at Home and Humana At Home, has roughly 17 million members.

Meanwhile, Philips is a Netherlands-based health technology company that has 80,000 employees. Currently, the multinational company provides services in more than 100 countries.

Through the newly announced partnership, high-risk Humana MA members will receive 24/7 access to care by utilizing Philips’ medical alert services and remote patient monitoring technology. The goal of the partnership is to ultimately improve care delivery and interventions, according to the companies.

Both Humana and Philips have expressed their mutual goal of supporting seniors’ ability to safely grow older in their own homes.

“This collaboration helps both Philips and Humana in their effort to shift from acute and episodic care more toward primary and secondary preventative care in the community and home, improving overall population health,” Ross said.

Another goal of the partnership is to reduce costly hospital readmissions through timely interventions. Particularly of note: Humana members who are identified as at-risk will be offered fall detection technology.

In general, falls are an ongoing problem for adults age 65 years or older. They are the fifth-leading cause of death among seniors, with more than 20,000 seniors dying each year because of fall injuries.

If trends don’t change, that number could increase to more than 40,000 older adults in 2020, according to previous statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The partnership also targets Humana’s members with congestive heart failure (CHF). Moving forward, such members we have access to Philips’ technology that includes an interactive tablet, weight scale, blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter. 

“The lack of visibility into patients’ lives outside of a hospital environment can be a barrier to timely and effective preventative care, as well as a senior’s ability to remain independent in their home,” Ross said. “Through Philips’ solutions, Humana’s care teams will achieve a line-of-sight into patients’ wellbeing to help proactively deliver appropriate interventions, adjust care plans as needed, or educate members on self-care.”

While the partnership is currently focused on a select group of members, the companies hope to expand participation over time to “enhance care delivery at scale,” according to Ross.

On a high level, these and similar efforts are all aimed at lowering wasteful U.S. health care spending.

Today, about 57% of Medicare patients are released from the hospital without any direct monitoring by a health care professional. That lack of oversight contributes to an annual cost of unnecessary readmissions estimated at $17 billion for Medicare patients alone.

“Our goal is to continue to find ways to help our Medicare Advantage members stay longer and safer in their homes,” Susan Diamond, Humana’s home business segment president, said in a statement. “We believe our work with Philips will help offer our members and their caregivers more in-home support and help them to stay engaged and focused on prevention.”

About a quarter of all health care spending in the United States — possibly as much as $935 billion per year — can be categorized as waste, an October Humana report found.

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