The initial results of the eHealth service HeartGuard are impressive, with 64% of resistant hypertension patients able to manage their high blood pressure more effectively. Zilveren Kruis began paying for its clients’ use of this modern version of heart care in 2016. Patients take their measurements themselves at home, while their cardiologist monitors remotely. “HeartGuard helps us bring care into the home safely, which is a major consideration in our view”, says Olivier Gerrits, director of care procurement at Zilveren Kruis.
HeartGuard is available to patients suffering from heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, or resistant hypertension. Cardiologie Centra Nederland (CCN, Cardiology centres of the Netherlands) systematically monitor patients who are insured by Zilveren Kruis and are using HeartGuard, to determine the clinical effects, as well as the effects on quality of life. The initial results are very promising.
Patients who used HeartGuard showed an average decrease in blood pressure from 157/89 mmHg to 132/84 mmHg. 64% of patients with resistant hypertension have even been able to control their blood pressure. These are patients who have been referred by their family physician after various medicines failed to lower their blood pressure.
From Waiting Room to Living Room
Since the introduction of HeartGuard in 2016, hundreds of Zilveren Kruis policyholders have used the technology. “The number of applicants is shooting up. This offers good prospects for the future of telemonitoring and eHealth in general”, Gerrits explains. “By bringing healthcare into our clients’ homes in a safe manner, we improve their quality of life, prevent symptoms from getting worse, and avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital”.
The data collected over the past year also shows that patients have an increasing sense of self-management. “In the long run, this means fewer trips to the emergency room or family physician, as well as shorter waiting times in the hospital. eHealth is going to take on an ever more prominent role in Zilveren Kruis’s procurement policy”, says Gerrits.
Dr. Igor Tulevski, cardiologist and co-founder of CCN adds, “The first results show that eHealth is no longer a promise, but a practical solution that really works”. Tulevski continues, “The patients feel a greater sense of freedom and experience an improved quality of life. They also feel safer because they can be in touch with a cardiologist 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It enables them to exercise more control”.
Viable, Scalable, and Affordable
By using Luscii’s Vitals app (formerly cVitals), patients can monitor and send measurements, such as blood pressure and heart rate, to their cardiologist. “For normal treatment, we often only see the patient once a year and have to define our policy based on that. Thanks to HeartGuard, patients can send us many more measurements and vitals from the comfort of their home. This gives a very in-depth understanding of our patient’s situation”, Tulevski explains.
“If any of the patient’s measurements deviate from the norm, we can provide remote care by tweaking the prescription, so as to prevent the situation from worsening. Last year’s data shows that we can prevent sudden changes in the patient’s health status, which leads to a reduction in emergency consultations”.
The Future of Care
Gerrits explains, “By offering eHealth, we are providing the healthcare of the future, today, for our clients. With other insurers also following our example, we’re pleased to see how this kind of telemonitoring is becoming more accessible”. HeartGuard is only available for CCN patients at the moment. “All that’s left now is for other insurance companies to embrace eHealth in the coming years, so that everyone who wishes to use it is able to do so”.
HeartGuard is a joint initiative by Zilveren Kruis, Cardiologie Centra Nederland, and the Dutch healthcare innovation company Luscii (a brand of FocusCura). Since last year, Zilveren Kruis has covered the cost of HeartGuard for its policyholders, if medically prescribed. This eHealth breakthrough in the Netherlands made international headlines in 2016.
This press release was published by our partner Zilveren Kruis.
Good news for more than 600,000 COPD patients in the Netherlands: more hospitals across the country are introducing the measurement of vital COPD values at home. This means that COPD patients no longer have to go to the hospital to get these values measured. “It also prevents hospitalisations, which is a great development”, says Emiel Rolink, director of Long Alliantie Nederland (LAN, the Dutch Lung Alliance).
Fewer hospital visits, with continuous supervision
A visit to the hospital is not only taxing on COPD patients who already have reduced energy because of their disease, but because the nature of the disease also causes stress. Patients can feel insecure and worry about ‘lung attacks’. Mr. Bremer, a COPD patient, explains: “I no longer have to go to the hospital as often as I used to, which really was an intense exertion for me. Now I have my values measured twice a week, which really gives me and my family peace of mind”.
Health measurements at home
Measuring the values of COPD patients at home is made possible by Luscii Vitals (formerly cVitals), an eHealth solution designed by the Dutch health care innovation company Luscii, a spin-out brand of FocusCura. Patients submit their measurements twice a week, which are then monitored at a distance. If the system detects an increased risk or if the patient has questions of their own regarding certain measurements, they can contact a healthcare professional immediately by video chat. In doing so, the care provider can give instant medical attention and prevent hospitalisations.
“We need to reduce hospitalisations by 25%”
In the Netherlands, COPD attacks equate to 30,000 hospitalisations every year, half of which are re-admissions. Rolink notes that, “The LAN wants to reduce the number of hospitalisations by 25% across the Netherlands in the context of the Nationaal Actieprogramma Chronische Longziekten (National action programme for chronic lung disease patients), while maintaining or improving the quality of life of patients. Finland and pilot areas in the Netherlands have shown that it is possible, provided you use a systematic approach that monitors the patient closely”.
Hospitals across the Netherlands
“We are working with Luscii to make this kind of modern COPD care available to patients across the Netherlands”, states Joris van Eijck, director of Health Care for Menzis. “This follows multiple successful projects in Slingeland Hospital, Isala, and MC Slotervaart”. To help hospitals achieve this ambition, they will be receiving a book from Erik Gerritsen, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, during the national e-health week. This book contains lessons learned, experiences, and a plan of action to make digital COPD care available.
This press release was published by Menzis during the Dutch eHealth week in 2018.
Slingeland Ziekenhuis (Slingeland Hospital), Sensire, and Menzis have optimised how they work together, so that they can provide even better remote care to people suffering from heart failure. Patients can now send information about their heart rate, blood pressure, and weight every two weeks using an iPad, improving how their health is monitored and reducing the frequency of in-hospital check-ups. Health insurer Menzis now fully covers the cost of this new style of digital care.
The hospital, healthcare provider, and health insurer teamed up some time ago as part of the project ‘InBeeld’ (‘bringing into vision’), to provide remote care to people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This enables patients, nursing staff, and doctors to use the ‘Vitals’ app (formerly cVitals) – a product designed by the Dutch company Luscii – on their iPad and other digital devices in order to exchange information and video-call via a secure connection. If required, patients can contact the nurse directly or schedule an appointment at the hospital.
This application seamlessly brings together the cardiologist’s specialist knowledge at Slingeland Hospital, Sensire’s nursing expertise, and Menzis’ financial support. This has boosted the quality of life of patients living in more rural areas of the Netherlands: The control they have over their health means they no longer need to go to the hospital as often. It’s a step towards a healthier life.
John Diederik from Hengelo is one of the enthusiastic users of this remote care. The time that John and his girlfriend would have spent at the hospital can now be used for their hobbies and leisure. He tells us about his experiences: “Today’s technology really has no limits. I stay in contact with friends and family via Facebook, and I also use Maps. It’s great to see how many solutions we now have for day-to-day things. Now we can add health care to that list”.
This press release was published by our partners Sensire, Slingeland and NAAST Medical Center.