Telehealth: providing patients peace of mind

When you are sick, there is no place like home. After all, home is where the healing is. But with a complicated illness, remaining at home can be difficult. If you suffer from a chronic illness or are recovering from surgery, telehealth may be a beneficial service to help you remain in the comfort of your own home. Telehealth monitoring involves a small easy-to-use device that includes a blood pressure cuff, scale and pulse oximeter, which allow a registered nurse to access a patient's health remotely. Telehealth vital signs are transmitted via cellular network or phone line, and can be used to monitor patients in remote locations.

With the telehealth service, patients monitor their blood pressure, weight, heart rate and oxygen levels each day. Patients also answer questions regarding their symptoms to identify any warning signs of larger issues. If an issue is suspected, the registered homecare nurse will be alerted to check on the patient. Lori Johnson, RN, telehealth coordinator at McLaren Homecare Group, explains telehealth and how it can benefit patients and their families: "Telehealth monitors the patient between homecare visits. If we get alerts from patients, we can contact them, triage their symptoms, and alert the registered nurse to make a visit if necessary. We can even do same-day visits if needed. This is all done to prevent the patient from being re-hospitalized and keep the patient safe at home."

Lori Johnson with patient talking with patient

An educational component specific to each patient's disease process is included in the telehealth unit, and Johnson gives an example of how this works: "Telehealth software asks patients specific questions about their condition. For example, a patient with congestive heart failure would be asked, "˜Is your breathing worse today than usual?' If the patient answers yes, it will prompt more specific questions about symptoms and help identify the severity. If a patient's responses signal that additional medical attention is required, the registered homecare nurse will be alerted to schedule a visit with the patient. 

Johnson also explains the comfort telehealth service can provide patients with chronic illness or recovering from surgery. "Telehealth helps improve the lives of patients and their families because it gives them reassurance that they are being taken care of. It is also a good teaching tool for when the patient is monitoring their symptoms on their own, so they begin to identify which signs to watch for." Telehealth is an additional service for homecare patients and is typically used between 45 and 60 days. During this time, patients learn how to monitor their symptoms and understand if they need to seek additional help from a medical professional. An additional benefit is the ability to provide vital sign reports to physicians.

Telehealth is especially helpful for patients with congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia or hypertension, as well as patients who are recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery. In addition to homecare, telehealth helps patients monitor their health on their own while remaining safely in the comfort of home. For more information on our telehealth services, or to see if you or a loved one qualify for telehealth as part of homecare, call (866) 323-5974.