- An important avenue within the healthcare technology sector is the development of remote monitoring tools. These applications may play a major role in improving the quality of healthcare services and boosting patient health outcomes.
Saundra Fitzgerald, IT Administrator at Dallas-based MD Pediatrics, spoke with mHealthIntelligence.com and discussed how remote monitoring tools – specifically the mehealth for ADHD product – have helped the medical practice better diagnose children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Additionally, their patient-centered medical home approach has required them to capture more data from their consumers.
“We’ve relatively recently created a patient-centered medical home initiative where we’re trying to cover all aspects of a patient’s health,” Fitzgerald explained. “You want to know what’s coming in, what’s going out, what specialist they’ve seen, what care have they sought outside of the office. A lot of that information is gathered during a patient visit.”
“In the case of the mehealth for ADHD product, it is specifically used for our patients who have a diagnosis or are thinking about a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder,” she stated. “That particular piece we began using in October of 2014. At that point, we had approximately 900 patients who were already diagnosed with ADHD. We’ve been using it for parents who are wondering whether their children have ADHD.”
“It has two online components. One has questionnaires for the parents and one has questionaries’ for the teachers,” Fitzgerald mentioned. “The person who started the mehealth organization when she was a new physician, the older guys said, ‘Here take all this ADHD data and let us see how these numbers are consistent and what kind of treatments we’ve given them.’ She had a desk full of charts and thought, ‘There has got to be a better way to organize this.’ So mehealth has designed the rubric behind the answers that the parents give to graphically reproduce whether a child is likely to have ADHD or not based on the symptoms that the parents and the teachers present.”
When asked whether the remote monitoring tools made ADHD diagnosis and treatment more efficient, Fitzgerald stated, “I don’t know if efficient is the first word that comes to mind, but certainly more comprehensive.”
“You can take your child to any physician and present symptoms and the doctor can say, ‘Yeah, it sounds like that kid has ADHD.’ An additional product we use called quotient is a test we do at the beginning for assessment where the child wears a headband with a reflective surface and it includes a camera. The child plays a rudimentary game on the computer while the camera watches them. It tests for inattention and distractibility,” Fitzgerald said. “These things are pretty good about helping the physician tease out if there’s some comorbid disorder that may be presenting itself like ADHD but may not actually be ADHD. With these tools, we can help make decisions about whether a child is more complicated. It has definitely made our diagnosis process more thorough.”
When asked what challenges the organization encountered when using remote monitoring tools, Fitzgerald explained that, “One of the challenges of any remote monitoring tool is cooperation on the end of the receiving party. I would say for our developmental screen, for example, a good response to an electronic invite is probably around 15 percent. Some parents get the email and they ignore it.”
“With mehealth for ADHD, their hands are more tied because of the protocols we have in place. If the parents ignore their invitation to fill out their electronic assessment, we say, ‘We’re not going to be able to take this appointment. We’re not going to be able to refill your child’s meds.’ We have really good compliance with our mehealth for ADHD product at around 85 percent. One of the drawbacks is that parents can be a little technology-challenged. Most of our challenges are end-user problems.”
Fitzgerald also spoke about how remote monitoring tools can affect the triple aim of healthcare – better quality of care, improved health outcomes, and lower costs.
“I do feel that it helps them reach the triple aim because providers are squeezed for time. So anything they can have at their fingertips that they can know when they hit the door instead of getting it in a patient interview can make them more efficient,” she concluded.