Care today: keeping a remote eye on patients

In the age of the Fitbit, perhaps it comes as little surprise that health professionals are now turning to wearable tech to better monitor their patients’ health. Through an electronic system called Telehealth, unnecessary trips to the hospital can be avoided by allowing medical professionals keep a close eye on a patient’s health remotely.

TRANSCRIPT

IN THE AGE OF THE FITBIT, PERHAPS IT COMES AS LITTLE SURPRISE THAT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS ARE NOW TURNING TO WEARABLE TECH TO BETTER MONITOR THEIR PATIENTS' HEALTH.

THROUGH AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM CALLED TELEHEALTH, UNNECESSARY TRIPS TO THE HOSPITAL CAN BE AVOIDED BY ALLOWING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TO KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON A PATIENT'S HEALTH REMOTELY.

WANT ME TO START IT?

SURE, GO AHEAD, START IT.

GOOD AFTERNOON.

ARE YOU READY TO START YOUR HEALTH CHECK?

AT 96 YEARS YOUNG, ART ENGLAND KNOWS MONITORING HIS HEALTH IS A CRITICAL PART OF THE DAILY ROUTINE.

BUT HE SAYS HE'D RATHER BE IN CONTROL AND WATCH IT HIMSELF.

THE BEST THING ABOUT IT IS, IF YOU HAVE A NURSE COMING TO DO THIS, YOU HAVE TO BE READY AT A SPECIAL TIME.

THIS WAY HERE, YOU'RE AT EASE.

WHENEVER YOU DESIRE TO DO IT, IT'S AVAILABLE.

TELEHEALTH IS A WAY FOR US TO HELP OUR PATIENTS MANAGE THEIR CHRONIC CONDITION AT HOME AND, HOPEFULLY, AVOID UNNECESSARY HOSPITALIZATION.

HOME TELEHEALTH CARE USES AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM THAT SENDS A PATIENT'S VITAL DATA BACK TO A HOME BASE.

IN THIS CASE, IT'S DEB LEVIN'S OFFICE AT THE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION OF SOMERSET HILLS.

SO, THE TRANSMISSION USUALLY INCORPORATES A WEIGHT, A BLOOD PRESSURE, A HEART RATE, AND AN OXYGEN READING.

NURSES TYPICALLY MONITOR PATIENTS WITH COPD, HEART FAILURE, FREQUENT PNEUMONIA, AND DIABETES.

IF SOMETHING LOOKS OFF, THEY INTERVENE ON A PATIENT'S BEHALF, FIRST CALLING THEM TO GIVE INSTRUCTIONS THAT A PHYSICIAN IS NEEDED.

WHEN YOU TAKE MY WEIGHT, DO YOU WANT ME TO DO IT THE WAY I DO IT IN THE MORNING?

DON'T SAY YES.

[ LAUGHS ]

YOUR OXYGEN SATURATION IS AT 90.

THAT'S VERY, VERY, VERY GOOD.

IN A PILOT PROGRAM THAT WE'VE DONE, WE DID REDUCE READMISSIONS BY 50%. SO, ULTIMATELY, IT DOES SAVE THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY.

AND NOT ONLY DOES IT SAVE THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM MONEY, IT ALSO IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF PATIENTS SO THAT THEY CAN REMAIN IN THE COMMUNITY.

THE PROBLEM?

ONLY ABOUT 30% OF ORGANIZATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CAN OFFER IT.

RIGHT NOW, WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS MEDICARE NOT REIMBURSING FOR TELEHEALTH SERVICES.

ADDITIONALLY, OUR STATE ALSO DOES NOT REIMBURSE THROUGH THE MEDICAID BENEFIT, EITHER.

AND WHILE THE COST SAVINGS AND HOSPITAL READMISSION RATES MAY BE IMPORTANT FACTORS, ONE OF THE KEY BENEFITS, THEY SAY, IS PATIENT INVOLVEMENT AND THEIR AWARENESS OF THEIR OWN HEALTH.

I KNOW HOW I'M MAINTAINING MY LIFE.

NOW, MONDAY NIGHT, I ATE TOO MUCH.

I WAS AT A PICNIC.

[ LAUGHS ] I WENT OVER 150.

IT PROVIDES A SENSE OF SECURITY TO OUR PATIENTS.

THEY KNOW THAT A NURSE IS ON THE OTHER END OF THEIR DEVICE, LOOKING EVERY SINGLE DAY, MAKING SURE THAT THEY'RE STABLE.

AND FOR THIS FORMER WORLD WAR II AERIAL ENGINEER, WITH A LOT OF PEP LEFT IN HIS STEP, THAT'S JUST THE TICKET.