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Ochsner Health Says Digital Medicine Pilot Improves Outcomes



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New Orleans-based Ochsner Health has released findings about a pilot program, highlighting how access to digital medicine with remote patient management can improve outcomes for Medicaid patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

The results of the pilot program showed that enrollment in Ochsner Digital Medicine brought nearly half of all out-of-control hypertension patients under control at 90 days, a rate that was 23 percent higher than usual care. Control rates continued to improve as patients remained in the program during its first 18 months. Ochsner said that 59 percent of people with poorly controlled diabetes achieved control over their condition as part of the digital program – a rate twice as high as usual care.

“So meaningfully moving the needle among Medicaid patients with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension is unprecedented. We couldn’t be prouder of the results we have seen from our Louisiana Medicaid Digital Medicine Pilot,” said Denise Basow, M.D., Ochsner’s first chief digital officer. “We are confident this program can be scaled to improve the lives of others across the state and around the country to mitigate the impacts of chronic disease.”

In Louisiana, roughly 14 percent of the adult population has diabetes, and 40 percent has hypertension. After witnessing Medicaid programs fall behind in providing access to critical digital health programs that could create better outcomes for patients with these chronic diseases, Ochsner Health launched this pilot program June 2020 at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, and has now enrolled more than 4,400 patients.

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Lauren Beal, M.D., medical director of primary care and community clinics – Northwest Louisiana, enrolled numerous patients into the Ochsner Digital Medicine pilot. “As clinicians, we are always working to improve patient outcomes and the overall patient experience, and this program shows that we can use home-based technologies to accomplish both,” she said in a statement.

Following completion of the first year of the pilot, an independent actuarial firm confirmed that health outcomes of Medicaid patients improved by scientifically significant standards. Most patients achieved control of their hypertension and diabetes within 90 days of beginning the program, even those who had poor control prior to enrollment.

In addition to improving health outcomes, participation in the digital medicine program resulted in high patient satisfaction, with a net promoter score greater than 91 for Medicaid participants. This is consistent with the high patient satisfaction with digital chronic disease management programs at Ochsner among non-Medicaid patients.

More than 30,000 patients have benefited from Ochsner’s Digital Medicine chronic disease programs, said Richard Milani, M.D., the chief clinical transformation officer and vice-chairman of the Department of Cardiology at Ochsner Health System. “We’re offering patients compassionate human care combined with the power of technology, and we’ll continue to expand these programs to help more patient populations,” he added in a statement.

Given the variability in coverage for remote patient management, Ochsner Health said it is seeking to obtain reimbursement from payers and employers to further expand and formalize the Digital Medicine program’s offering beyond its pilot in Louisiana and across the United States.