09 September 2013

Connected Health – Generates Quality Care

This is a take-off of a blog posted recently by Nancy Finn on her site. I read her blog with interest as it was so much different from another article also posted recently on Medscape. Nancy's blog indicates an extremely large dollar savings while the Medscape article reports no savings.

Now before I go further, the UK study was a once monthly telephone conference as a 1-on-1 health coaching session. Nancy covers a broader range of telemedicine. She brings in the internet, telecommunications, video technology, smart phones, robotics, digital sensors and scanners. This is all used to provide patients in remote, medically underserved areas, or those who are homebound, immediate quality care. This makes it easy to understand why the UK study was unsuccessful.

Enough about the UK study, Nancy's blog gives hope. Considering the range of services she is talking about, there is hope that her projected savings is possible and even if not met, large dollar savings should still exist. What I enjoy about Nancy's blog is the fact that her ideas are not limited by technology, but embraces technology to care for patients. From using an interface to hook up patients with appropriate healthcare specialists, speech therapy, and mental health counseling when and where it is needed. Also of interest is the assisting of patients with chronic diseases to manage there care remotely.

Nancy states, “The Center for Connected Health and Partners Home Care did a pilot where over 500 heart failure patients were monitored remotely. Home health nurses collected vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure and weight, using simple devices in the patient’s home. The information was sent daily to a nurse, who could identify early warning signs, notify the patient’s primary care physician, and intervene to avert a potential health crisis. The program resulted in reduced hospital visits and improved quality of health care for the patients.”

This is the first I have read about a “smart” pill bottle being used to detect when a patient at home did not take their scheduled medication. The pill bottle would send a signal to an ambient orb in the patient's home to remind them to take that medication. I can see that this could reduce the chances of a medical crises and even an emergency room visit. This could alone save big dollars.

Using technology could make the workload for doctors' decrease and provide better care for patients. Now I will need to be alert to see if state medical boards will fight to prevent these technologies from happening and if doctors will welcome these technologies or try to say that it is robbing them of revenue when the Affordable Care Act becomes a reality. There are many areas in the US that could benefit from modern technology.

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