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mHealth Platforms Are Proving Their Value to Home Health Agencies

Advances in digital health and the Internet of Things are improving the transition from hospital to home - and keeping patients at home.

By Eric Wicklund

- A Chicago-based home health agency is launching an mHealth platform to help its chronic care patients transition from the hospital to the home – and stay home.

Health Resource Solutions, which works with more than 1,000 patients a month, will be using an app to keep tabs on its patients with congestive heart failure and COPD. The app is part of a chronic disease management platform that transmits vital signs and other patient data to a portal, where the data is analyzed and presented to the care team.

Glenn Steigbigel, the company’s CEO, says the mHealth platform, developed by San Francisco-based Wanda, not only connects the patient to the care team at all times, but gives the care team access to data and analytics focused on the patient’s daily activities.

“We are looking in on that patient every day,” he said, “and reacting to (that data). This gives us a chance to create a care management plan that teaches and rehabilitates … and moves (the patient) closer to independence.”

HRS is among a number of home health agencies turning to digital health to improve the post-discharge process for patients with chronic conditions, many of whom would wind up right back in the hospital if they didn’t have a care management plan that connect them to a care team at home. The service benefits not only the patient and their families, but also health systems eager to reduce preventable health crises and rehospitalizations.

The process is made simpler with the development of the Internet of Things, which enables healthcare providers to tap into a number of smart devices in the home to gather information on and connect with patients at a moment’s notice. With Wanda, the connection is made through the Wanda Smart App, running on the patient’s Android smart device.

Steigbigel says home health agencies like HRS are just now seeing the benefits from mHealth platforms, which enable them to collaborate with both the patient and the provider – such as the patient’s primary care physician or cardiologist.

A key component to that platform is collaboration. Digital health programs will fail – and have failed – when technology is simply dropped in the patient’s lap at home without any link to the care team, Steigbigel says. The apps and devices in the home will only succeed when they’re connected to a platform that engages the entire care team.

“I truly believe that healthcare is shifting into the home,” he said. “There are more and different things that we can do in the home now that we couldn’t do just a few years ago.”


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