Philips has landed a $100 million, 10-year telehealth contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the company announced in a statement Wednesday.
Philips said the contract will support the creation of the world’s largest system for providing remote access to critical care expertise. The system, called eICU, will enable a centralized team of critical care physicians and nurses to monitor patients in the VA's 1,800 ICU beds which are located throughout the country.
In a separate announcement Thursday morning, Philips said there's a new addition to its remote patient monitoring offering: a sticker sensor from BioIntelliSense that can monitor COVID-19 as well as a range of chronic conditions.
The VA has invested in telehealth in recent years to support the care of the 9 million veterans nationwide it serves annually. The system is designed to stop geography from being a barrier to access expert care. Those capabilities have proven particularly valuable during the coronavirus pandemic. From February to May, VA increased the number of weekly home appointments performed via video 12-fold, from 10,000 to 120,000.
Now, VA has partnered with Philips to expand the telehealth capabilities of the intensive care side of its operation. Philips said the eICU program can improve outcomes while also controlling costs.
The claims are backed up by the experience of Health First, a not-for-profit community health system based in Florida. Having worked with Philips to set up an eICU in 2004, Health First now has data linking the model to a 23% reduction in overall mortality and 49% drop in the length of ICU stay.
Philips has expanded its eICU business since the start of the Health Florida relationship. Today, Philips calculates more than 20% of adult ICU beds in the U.S. are monitored around the clock through eICU programs that use audiovisual technology, predictive analytics and other approaches. The VA contract could further expand the eICU market.
News of the contract comes several months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act created a $200 million fund to support the provision of telehealth services and eased some rules on telemedicine. Talking in April, Philips CEO Frans van Houten teased potential work with the VA in regard to the CARES Act.
“The CARES Act, while talking big numbers, we still need to see how fast it will turn from intent into revenue. But definitely, there are parts in the CARES Act that are applicable to us and that we will be engaging with the government and DoD and VA on,” van Houten said on a quarterly results call with investors.
Philips disclosed the VA contract the day before issuing a release about a collaboration to integrate BioIntelliSense’s FDA-cleared BioSticker sensor into its remote patient monitoring offering. BioSticker is a single-use, 30-day wearable that captures data on skin temperature, resting heart rate and other variables relevant to COVID-19. Philips said the integration will support remote monitoring of confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus infection.
Health plan provider Healthcare Highways has signed up to use BioSticker in conjunction with Philips’ remote patient monitoring system. Healthcare Highways will use the combination to monitor patients with COVID-19 and a range of other conditions including congestive heart failure, diabetes and asthma.