Carlos Díez-Ruza
ICON Group
Expert Contributor

Reimagining Traditional Support Services for Chronic Patients

By Carlos Díez-Ruza | Mon, 10/05/2020 - 09:00

The chronic patient deserves our total dedication and our absolute respect, so we’ve placed this growing and significant population group at the core of our company. When talking about chronic patients, we make explicit mention of that large group of people who in their day-to-day lives deal with limitations, complications and diverse needs, a population that, surprisingly, still today, does not have at its disposal specialized, cost-effective services.

We are certainly all aware of specific cases of patients with pathologies such as diabetes, hypertension, CHF and acute respiratory problems in this category who need to travel, sometimes despite economic constraints and at the risk of their health deteriorating.

Technology provides us with numerous and diverse options in the 21st century. The most important factor is to understand the needs of our present and future patients very well in order to develop tailor-made solutions because no two patients are the same, with each patient having a different situation and unique conditions. The contribution of value needed to cover an increasingly demanding and empowered demand is where ICON Group begins.

ICON Group has been working for years to develop specific solutions for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and, specifically, to develop customized services within the area of patient programs for the pharmaceutical industry. More and more laboratories are investing in molecules and other developments aimed at curing extremely complex diseases. A good example of this would be the case of so-called rare diseases. In this sense, and in a pioneering way in Latin America, we are launching the first digital hospital for chronic diabetic patients, type I and II – insulin-dependent – with an integral care program that includes:

  • telemonitoring through a tablet connected to other electronic devices by cable and Bluetooth
  • telemedicine, through a digital platform 
  • nurse contact center
  • other channels: WhatsApp, email, phone
  • and, of course, on-site – and home-based – care for those patients who require personalized attention in their desired location 

Our team of specialists, with multidisciplinary and multicountry knowledge, receives real-time electronic information through an interface incorporated in a tablet that we developed based on Intel technology. We provide these tablets to patient for their particular use, which allows the immediate transmission of the medical data collected by their respective devices: in this case, glucometers. 

Every time a diabetic patient takes his daily recommended control, the information gathered will be immediately uploaded to our digital platform and received instantly. The information the undergoes a rigorous process of data screening by the specialist managers at our center. In this way, all those chronic patients with glucose/glycemia evaluations located outside the maximum and/or minimum ranges pre-established by their medical specialists, will be attended by our experts as a matter of priority. By means of a simple traffic light code, those with altered data will be attended to, without the need for triage. All this without the patient needing to check their levels at any time, much less have contact with health professionals.

Tens of thousands of new diabetic patients, generally recommended by the doctors responsible for their care, are added to our platform throughout the year. Therefore, it is the specialists themselves who recommend that their patients incorporate support and adherence programs into this new hybrid format. Thanks to the new business models of personalized care, the health of our population will continue to improve and we will continue to re-imagine our future, and particularly that of our patients.

A chronically destabilized patient can be a burden not only for herself/himself but for his/her whole universe: family, friends and work. It also represents an unprecedented cost to governments and insurance companies around the world. 

With the progressive and sustained aging of the population, the announced containment measures do not seem realistic, and even less so for such disproportionate volumes of affected people. It is more realistic, in any case, to propose intelligent formulas of prevention – and education – of the population at a general level. And of the chronic patient populations, specifically.

Our pioneering digital hospital operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and allows our clients to contract modular services, although telemonitoring is not always included as this specific module is reserved for patients with a higher level of risk, and therefore have greater monitoring needs. This allows for tailor-made solutions with favorable final costs.

After the successful introduction of our digital platform for chronic patients in the Southern Cone region: – Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay – we are moving forward to replicate this innovative model in both Mexico and the Andean region – Colombia, Peru and Ecuador – by the end of 2020. Likewise, we will extend our capabilities to other chronic diseases, maintaining the same format. 

At the moment, we are negotiating the launch of new digital hospitals, first for chronic patients suffering the central nervous system conditions and then also for those with respiratory issues. Similarly, we are analyzing very specific requests in the framework of other pathologies, although always in population groups with chronic health  conditions.

Photo by:   Carlos Díez-Ruza