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Hospitals Expand Home Telemedicine, Remote Monitoring

Health systems continue to incorporate telemedicine and remote monitoring into their service offerings.

Health systems are growing their telemedicine, remote monitoring capabilities

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- Hospital-based telemedicine and remote monitoring capabilities that extend access to specialty care and other services are becoming increasingly an increasingly popular option for patients and providers.

The use of telemedicine and remote monitoring tools that extend care into the home are applicable to many healthcare situations ranging from primary care to emergency care.

As more healthcare consumers cite the benefits of telemedicine, such as convenience and lower travel costs, hospitals are beginning to meet consumer demands while capitalizing on the improvements telemedicine brings to their healthcare services.

Horizon Home Health offers customized in-home telemedicine to patients  

Through the use of a 4G tablet and Bluetooth devices, patients in rural Treasure Valley, Idaho, can monitor their vital signs and answer symptom questions daily through a single user portal. The portal is customized to a patient’s specific disease condition and experience, and can be used by patients to alert providers about health conditions in real time.

READ MORE: Telepsychiatry Opens a New Window into Behavioral Healthcare

The aim of Horizon’s extension of telemedicine and patient monitoring is to improve health outcomes for chronic conditions involving cardiac disease, respiratory issues, and diabetes.  These new digital healthcare initiatives also help with organizational goals such as reducing hospital admissions and keeping patients comfortable in their homes.

“With the patient’s care plan loaded onto the 4G tablet, no landline required, telehealth is now much more user-friendly and easy to use, which will allow us to achieve these goals,” said Ashley Pentzer, Director of Business Development for Horizon.

“We aim to be great partners with other facilities in our community by having a process in place to reduce the number of hospitalizations to below state and national averages,” said Carrie Birch, Director of Nursing at Horizon.

St. Vincent uses telemedicine to deliver transplant care within rural Indiana

In June of 2017, St. Vincent Hospital will begin to see patients at two new kidney transplant telemedicine clinics located within rural communities in Indiana.

READ MORE: Emergency Room Telemedicine Consults Help Pediatric Patients

The hospital is offering the satellite locations for patients located outside the greater Indianapolis area as a way to consult with St. Vincent transplant surgeons, specialists and social workers for their pre-surgery tests and evaluations. The satellite locations will; provide rural patients the experience of an in-person consultation without the patient needing to leave the comfort of their home communities.

“Thanks to the telemedicine technology in our clinics, patients who live outside of our immediate coverage area can receive care closer to home and would only have to travel to Indianapolis for their transplant surgery and all initial post-transplant follow-up care,” said St. Vincent Abdominal Transplant Program Executive Director Mary Ann Palumbi, RN.

Providers will initiate consults by traveling to the satellite locations to meet patients in-person. For their initial visit, patients will receive a full pre-surgical evaluation including a physical exam. On-site specialists will use telemedicine technology for real-time communication with a transplant physician, and a kidney transplant team stationed at their main transplant facility in Indianapolis. Additional testing will be completed at outside facilities.

By expanding its services to underserved pockets of the state via telemedicine, the St. Vincent transplant team can save patients from unnecessary long drives while improving their health outcomes.

“Thanks to the telemedicine technology in our clinics, patients who live outside of our immediate coverage area can receive care closer to home and would only have to travel to Indianapolis for their transplant surgery and all initial post-transplant follow-up care,” said Palumbi.

READ MORE: Primary Care Telemedicine Produces High Patient Satisfaction

Appalachian Regional Healthcare’s work in home telemedicine delivery earns recognition

Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) received the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center’s (MATRC) 2017 award for Telehealth Excellence in Service for Rural and/or Medically Underserved Populations for its successful remote monitoring initiative.

ARH’s Remote Patient Monitoring Program (RPMP) helps patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases manage their conditions following hospital discharge to decrease repeat preventable readmissions within 30 days of their discharge.

Patients are identified by the hospital’s case manager, and have monitoring devices installed in their homes following discharge.

Each day, the patients record their blood pressure, pulse, weight, and oxygen level, which is collected by bluetooth and sent into a cloud server. The data is reviewed by a registered nurse, who calls the patient and validates the data if patient data is outside healthy levels. Once a nurse evaluates the situation to the fullest, they then consult the patient’s provider. The provider then determines the need for a medical intervention.

The Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center and Harlan ARH Hospital effectively reduced readmissions by 50 percent and 69 percent respectively after implementing the RPMP. The Whitesburg ARH Hospital also launched the RPMP to manage patients with cardiovascular, pulmonary, and diabetic-based diseases.

“This recognition is thanks to all the individuals at ARH who have worked so hard to make these programs a success not only to better our health system, but for the patients whose lives we touch every day and who are now able to better manage health conditions that previously would have required a lengthy hospital stay,” said ARH Manager of Corporate Strategy Isaac Hallam.

“These efforts are an embodiment of our mission and the patients enrolled in these programs are truly benefiting.”

Included at ARH is their qualified CMS Chronic Care Program which encourages doctors and patients to connect outside normal office visits through emails, phone calls and contact by other health care team members under the direction of the patient’s doctor.

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