Tech support key to physicians' adoption of telemonitoring

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A new study from Spain finds that primary care physicians are willing to adopt telemonitoring for chronic care patients, given adequate tech support and training to use it effectively.

The findings mirror previous research by the team from the Bilbao Primary Care Health Region that found training and support the key factors among hospital-based physicians' willingness to use remote monitoring.

A third key factor among the primary care physicians was the knowledge that telemonitoring would require important changes in their practice. They did not view this change negatively, but wanted to ensure that it could work effectively within their work flow, according to the study published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. Its perceived usefulness was an influential factor in their willingness to adopt telemonitoring.

Previous research has documented the difficulties with remote monitoring unless patients are fully on board. But the service likely never would be offered at all unless the physicians are, as this study points out.

In all, 268 professionals--122 general practitioners, 15 pediatricians and 131 nurses--participated in the study. Nearly 80 percent were women, and more than three-quarters were between 40 and 59 years old. They averaged 21.3 years in clinical practice.

"The availability of training and adequate technical support is likely to foster providers' acceptance of telemonitoring for the management of chronic care patients in primary care," wrote the researchers. "These elements should, thus, be central in communication strategies directed at healthcare professionals in order to prepare them for a large scale implementation of the telemonitoring system experimented in this pilot trial."

Though organizations such as the Geisinger Health Plan have reported big reductions in readmissions through telemonitoring, FierceHealthIT's Ken Terry wrote back in March that telemonitoring has a long way to go before it's widely used in the United States. For one thing, most ambulatory care physicians are reimbursed only for face-to-face visits, plus they lack the staff and tech support to keep tabs on telemonitoring data.

Yet Frost & Sullivan researchers have predicted the North American market for remote monitoring devices will hit $294.9 million by 2015.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)

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