Medical Centre uses smart phones to monitor heart patients at home

Flagstaff Medical Centre, Arizona USA (FMC) has enrolled its first patient into a ground breaking new program, Care Beyond Walls and Wires, an initiative that will extend the care of patients beyond the walls of the hospital or doctor’s office.

In collaboration with Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, Zephyr Technology, Verizon Wireless, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Care Beyond Walls and Wires uses advanced 3G wireless technology and health-monitoring devices to enhance the care of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) or other related conditions.

“This project launches a model of care that transcends traditional medicine, using state-of-the-art technology to care for patients beyond the walls of the hospital,” said William Bradel, Flagstaff Medical Center president and CEO. “Working with these technology companies and national health agencies will extend FMC’s reach into outlying areas where healthcare is most needed.”

Qualcomm is lending its expertise and donating wireless devices to FMC in support of the project. Zephyr is providing advanced health-monitoring systems to patients and Verizon Wireless is providing 3G-enabled Motorola Droid X2 smart phones. The NIH is assisting FMC with project planning and evaluation.

Care Beyond Walls and Wires uses wireless broadband tools, such as smart phones and 3G technology, to allow in-home daily monitoring of patients with CHF. These tools will collect and transfer critical data, such as weight, blood pressure, activity and other important health indicators, to nurses at FMC who are following patients enrolled in the program. Information will be sent daily for three to six months after the patient’s discharge from the hospital. This daily exchange of information enables health care providers and patients to work together to manage CHF. With the technology, health care professionals can detect a decline in a patient’s health status early and intervene immediately, helping to reduce unnecessary travel, doctor’s visits, costs and readmission to a hospital.

According to the Federal government, 25 to 50 percent of CHF patients are re-hospitalised within three to six months of a hospital discharge. The primary reasons for re-hospitalisation include patients not taking medications as prescribed, failure to follow a dietary plan, not knowing the early signs of CHF and lack of planned follow-up with a healthcare provider after leaving the hospital. Each of these factors can be addressed on a daily basis through Care Beyond Walls and Wires.

Fifty patients discharged from FMC following an admission for CHF or related cardiac condition and who are at high risk for readmission will be invited to participate in the project. Project participants will be provided in-home monitoring equipment, mobile phones and training. Some patients also will receive home visits from outreach staff.

“Our mission is to transform the health of the communities we serve,” Bradel said. “This program will dramatically extend the delivery of healthcare by giving our CHF patients the tools to stay connected to a nurse at FMC, regardless of how close they are to the hospital.”

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