Receiving the right healthcare begins with having the right information in the right hands. To those who see multiple providers, coordination of care may be the difference between consistent improvement and no improvement in chronic illnesses. It may also help identify changes in vital signs before they become life threatening.
Many large cities and hospitals are now investing in products and programs that will tap into information on a daily basis and get it to the right hands. One such organization is Memorial Herman hospital in Houston, Texas. Of course patients have to be willing to take advantage of the program. When patients are discharged with chronic conditions, they are asked to participate in the program that is usually in conjunction with home health orders. Nurses come to the home to set up equipment and educate patients and family. An Ipad using Bluetooth technology is set up to transmit daily weight, BP, oxygen levels and glucose levels if applicable to a community health exchange that monitors information and is accessible by all providers in the network. Each day patients log in to a secure encrypted electronic network to maintain digital medical records. The monitoring nurse alerts primary providers of changes that may indicate the need for intervention…..i.e. weight gain of 3 pounds within 48 hours may mean fluid retention and medication should be started or increased.
The records maintained are allergies, medications, immunizations, vital signs, test results, chronic conditions and a daily log of questions and answers from patients. It’s a good start.
The monitoring nurse calls the patient and lets them know transmission has been received after initial log in and answers any questions or concerns. Right now the goal is to monitor patients for 60 days to keep re-admissions from re-occurring.
State of the art information systems are utilized to protect patient information and only those providers with documented need for patient information allowed to access records.
The patient portion of the network while technically sophisticated is very patient friendly and easy to use. Obviously careful thought and planning went into the product.
As more and more patients and providers use the exchange, more and more information will be stored and shared. Features will be expanded and beneficial clinical information will allow providers access as decision making between providers will be facilitated.
Regardless of what one may think about the ACA (affordable Care Act) this benefit will indeed become a real and lasting benefit.