VNA of Cape Cod Offers Leading Home Health Technology to Area Residents

In-home Telemonitoring Devices Used as Preventative Medicine to Reduce Repeat Hospitalizations and ER Visits

Through the use of new, in-home telemonitoring technology, patients of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Cape Cod are getting a checkup every day in the comfort of their homes.

"The Honeywell HomMed Health Monitoring System enables us to deliver high-quality care to our patients by providing us with daily, real-time clinical information regarding trends in their health status," says Jeanne Sarnosky, director of marketing at the VNA.

In-home telemonitoring uses telecommunications devices, about the size of an alarm clock, placed in patients' homes to take their vital signs every day. The technology brings benefits to both patients and health care professionals and has a significant impact on patient care and quality of life. "The technology allows for early intervention when a health problem is detected, helping prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations," explains Susan Handy, telemedicine manager. "It also enables us to better communicate with the patient's physician by providing them with trend reports as needed."

When patients' vital signs are taken daily, irregularities can be caught before they become full-fledged problems. Daily monitoring helps eliminate the two or three-day gaps of information that typically occur between home visits. Patients also become more aware of their condition and understand the effects diet, activity and other factors have on their health.

"The system gives our patients and their families peace of mind because they know we're always aware of their condition, even on days when we're not at their home," explains Handy.

The VNA of Cape Cod is using the Honeywell HomMed monitors to help care for many of its patients, and are now considered to be part of the "standard of care" at he VNA. Every day, in just three minutes, the Honeywell HomMed Health Monitoring System collects a variety of vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and body weight.

The system can also gather subjective health information, which further assists in evaluating the patient's condition. The monitor can be programmed to ask up to 10 "yes" / "no" questions in 11 languages. Question sets can be tailored specifically for each patient based on his or her diagnosis. For example, a patient with high blood pressure might be asked, "Are you experiencing any dizziness today?"

The data are transmitted via a telephone line for review by VNA of Cape Cod clinicians. Each patient has a pre-programmed set of limits for their individual vital sign readings. If those limits are broken, an alert appears on the computer screen. This allows the clinician to quickly prioritize which patients require first response. With this system, healthcare professionals can detect and address even the slightest abnormalities before they become serious.

"In keeping with our mission to provide the highest standards in healthcare delivery and quality, the VNA of Cape Cod had joined a rapidly growing network of more than 250 clinical sites in the U.S., Canada and Germany," according to Sarnosky. These sites are helping lower health expenditures by preventing medical emergencies in patients with chronic health conditions, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses. A study by the federal government's Agency for Health Care Research Quality (AHRQ) found that about 70 percent of all health care expenditures are related to chronic disease.

Honeywell HomMed model of care has been proven highly effective by the largest independent study conducted on in-home telemonitoring in the nation. The study, conducted in 2002, 2003 and 2004 by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP), a healthcare data services company, concluded that Honeywell HomMed-monitored patients experience fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits than unmonitored patients.

The SHP study reported that CHF patients monitored by Honeywell HomMed experienced a 56.5 percent reduction in hospitalizations. The study also revealed an 83.3 percent reduction in emergency room visits by diabetes patients who were using the Honeywell HomMed System. And, SHP determined that compared with similar non-monitored patients, Honeywell HomMed patients are more likely to improve or maintain their functional status.

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