‘When patients have a choice in a premier health care provider, technology really becomes a deciding factor’
BREWER, Maine – Eastern Maine Healthcare System’s home health program, which cares for more than 1,200 patients across the state, has used remote monitoring technology to cut patient readmissions in half.
The health system’s investment in remote monitoring technology has enabled it to achieve a decrease in patient readmissions in the southern part of the state from 15% to 8%.
“Technology allows us to have contact with our patients every day,” said Leah Wright, vice president of quality compliance and information for EMHS. “It makes the whole program successful.”
The VNA Home Health Hospice program at EMHS has 400 telemonitoring units that incorporate devices like blood pressure cuffs, scales, pulse oximeters and more. A dedicated telehealth specialist installs the remote monitoring system in the home and teaches the patient how to use it. The monitors are cellular and Bluetooth-enabled, and feature clear voice prompts that prompt the user how to collect their vital signs. The system is currently used on patients with COPD, congestive heart failure and other cardiac conditions.
Wright said EMHS isn’t afraid to spend the resources necessary to ensure patients benefit from the latest appropriate technology and that its health professionals know how to use it. Connecting those professionals to patients and caregivers at 14 entities across Maine, some in remote, rural areas, is a top priority.
“Their adaptation and acclimation to the technology has created a seamless transition with our patients,” she said. “The technology doesn’t get in the way, and patients don’t feel any distractions.”
EMHS also has a robust PERS program with about 1,000 patients across the state using the devices, and it is currently investigating technology partnerships for an aging in place program to kick off later this year.
As home care becomes the future of health care, Wright said technology is the piece that can make a program successful.
“When patients have a choice in a premier health care provider, technology really becomes a deciding factor,” she said.