Hospital Offers New Technology to Enhance Home Health Care
Technologies used by Baby Boomers throughout their careers are now being applied to the health care industry. The Honeywell HomMed Tele-monitoring System is revolutionizing the future of home health care services that can lead to increased independence for an aging population. This new technology is now an option being offered by Home Health at Columbus Community Hospital.
One Columbus resident recently experienced this new Tele-monitoring system as a way of monitoring his health on a daily basis and possibly avoiding another trip to the hospital.
Bob Harrington’s heart operates at 20% and he also suffers from congestive heart failure. One night in March, he awakened in the middle of the night experiencing shortness of breath. His wife, Sherry, wanted to take him to the Emergency Room, but said he thought he would be okay until morning. After what seemed to be a very long night, they headed for the Emergency Department early the next day. Bob spent the next four days in the hospital.
When he was ready to be dismissed, he was asked if he would be willing to help with a new pilot program for the Hospital’s Home Health Department. Over the next 30 days, Bob’s oxygen level, blood pressure, heart rate and weight would be monitored by the in-home system.
In just a few minutes every day, the system collected a variety of vital signs. Bob’s tele-monitoring system was programmed to ask three questions, but the equipment can be programmed to ask up to 10 “yes”/”no” questions in over 40 languages. Question sets can be tailored for each patient based on his or her diagnosis. In Bob’s case, one of the questions asked was “Are you experiencing shortness of breath today?”
Thankfully Bob answered “no” to this question during his tele-monitoring experience. However, if he had answered “yes”, it would have triggered additional questions and a telephone call from the registered nurse monitoring the system.
Bob’s statistics were sent via telephone to the Home Health office, where a nurse assessed the results. By daily monitoring his vital signs, any irregularities could be caught before they became full-fledged problems. If he missed his time to monitor, the system would alert the Home Health staff to follow-up.
Shane Fleming, Director of Home Health Services for the Hospital, says that the technology allows the nurse to guide the process and determine whether or not the patient needs additional assistance. “With the tele-monitoring system, the nurse can assess the situation and if results warrant it, get the patient the care he needs sooner.” Fleming notes.
“This is a great tool and helps us catch situations early.” says Jody Willison, RN. “We can see the results in the office immediately and it alerts us if there is a problem. We can then contact the patient, ask specific questions, and if needed, recommend further follow-up with his physician.”
Bob’s wife Sherry says the tele-monitoring system does exactly what it was intended to do. “If we had been using the Tele-monitoring system, we might have seen what was happening with Bob sooner.” she says. “With the Telehealth system he looked forward everyday to knowing what his blood pressure was and that the numbers were where they should be.”
“With tele-monitoring, if a person doesn’t know how to take care of himself, the system allows them to monitor what’s going on,” says Bob, “but it’s also the people behind the system that make it work. The report isn’t much good unless you have a healthcare professional telling you how to act on it.”
Fleming says the in-home monitoring allows collaboration between the physician, the patient and Home Health. “It doesn’t take away their autonomy,” he adds, “and it gives the patient an avenue to ask questions and to learn more about their health.”
If you would like to learn more about the Honeywell HomMed Health Tele-monitoring System, contact the Home Health Department of the Hospital at 402-562-3300.