For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) sufferers, being out of breath is about much more than fitness. But with wearable ventilation technology, COPD sufferers get a much better chance at successful and ongoing breathing.
Word hit the American College of Chest Physicians' annual meeting, CHEST 2015, about the use of wearable ventilation technology improving patient outcomes. The results of a study involving these tools were presented in a session titled “Health Care Utilization and Respiratory Health Status in Patients with Chronic Respiratory Insufficiency Following Addition of a Portable Non-Invasive Ventilator to the Treatment Regimen.” It took 16 oxygen-dependent patients regarded as stable, but with anywhere from moderate to severe COPD using a Non-Invasive Open Ventilation (NIOV) system from Irvine, California's Breathe Technologies.
The study discovered that by wearing an NIOV, COPD patients could reduce a variety of unpleasant inputs, like time spent in doctor's offices, in the emergency room, or in the admission process at a hospital. Those with COPD could also better manage the conditions alone, and that meant cost savings.
The study found that while office visit costs went up slightly, about nine percent—likely due to the fitting and maintenance of the NIOV—there were major cost savings afoot. Emergency room visit costs fell 68 percent, and that represented the lowest decline. Hospital days fell 83 percent, while hospital intensive care days fell 88 percent. Mechanical ventilation costs were almost eliminated, falling a staggering 96 percent.
It's not hard to spot the trend here; with all those inputs falling, so too do costs incurred by the system. If upfront service costs fall, then so will health insurance costs and other costs found at the hospital level. While there's a small uptick in doctor's office costs, that's comparatively minor against the huge savings found in the rest of the system. It's really a refinement of a concept running for some time now; the more that patients can manage issues unaided, the less dependent said patients are on the system. With the system less burdened, the system can run at lower expenses and save everyone cash. Whether it's home-based monitoring with wearable devices or just getting more exercise, the less contact with the system, the more savings are realized.
It's not as black-and-white as “Breathe NIOV systems will save us all money on our insurance,” but the idea is a good one to start with. A dollar here and a dollar there can add up to real savings, and the healthcare system in the United States—and beyond—could certainly benefit from savings. Wearable healthcare devices like ventilation systems could be just the thing to get there.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere