Telehealth…High-Tech Self-Care for Serious, Chronic Conditions
With technology playing an increasingly important role in home healthcare, VNA added a new tool to its high-tech arsenal with the recent acquisition of Cardicom® telehealth machines.
Like the ZOE monitors that have been in service since last year, telehealth is useful for tracking crucial fluid retention levels in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. However, the telehealth monitor and its peripheral attachments are capable of much more. Telehealth can read, record and transmit numerous vital signs in real-time. As a result, it’s beneficial for patients with many conditions including COPD and other respiratory illnesses, hypertension / high blood pressure and diabetes.
“These devices are simple to use yet they have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of some of our clients,” explained Faith F. Scott, FACHE, President and CEO. “For that reason, VNA made a strategic investment in this technology and offers it to select clients at no charge, even though it’s not yet covered by Medicare or other third-party insurance payers.”
Early Intervention & Prevention
“Telehealth will be used by patients who are struggling to maintain control of serious, chronic conditions and will aid in early detection of emerging concerns that might otherwise lead to Emergency Room visits and hospital admissions,” explained Katy Koyce, RN, BSN, Associate Director of Clinical Services.
“Telehealth supports VNA’s mission because it allows our home care team to monitor patients more closely while giving patients and loved ones who serve as caregivers the opportunity to become more committed to and actively engaged in self-care,” she said.
Practical, Value Added Resource
Telehealth is already making a difference for some VNA patients including William Bright, 84, who was among the first to be issued a monitor. William’s nurse, Jennifer Garrison, RN, BSN, relies on telehealth reports to confirm that her patient’s CHF is under control between visits.
Garrison, who was introduced to telehealth in the VNA Skills Lab, was, in turn, responsible for training her patient and his wife/caregiver in its use. Now the Brights, who describe telehealth as “no trouble,” are using the monitor and its attachments daily.
“Telehealth readings should always be taken at approximately the same time and under the same conditions,” Garrison explained. During the few minutes when the device is in use, patient data is transmitted in real-time to Cardiocom® where it is reviewed by a nurse. In the event of an irregularity, an immediate alert is sent to VNA for follow-up. If no special circumstances are detected, patient data is forwarded without being flagged. At VNA, both a Clinical Manager and the patient’s visiting nurse receive and review all data.
“In William Bright’s case,” Garrison said, “telehealth will help prevent hospital stays by yielding information that can be used to adjust medication levels and other aspects of home care in order to avert emergency and acute care episodes.”
When it comes to telehealth, VNA managers, nurses and patients unanimously agree this program is a good investment of their time and the agency’s resources.