“When you’ve spent an extended period of time in hospitals, going home can be terrifying. Even though you want to go home, you’re also leaving the place that has kept you safe.”
Healthcare advocate Roger Stoddard*, member of the SPOR Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovation Network leadership council, has had six extended in-patient stays, the longest lasting almost two years.
“Even though I’ve moved between hospitals and home many times, the transition doesn’t get easier for me or my family,” adds Stoddard. “I still feel a lot of guilt for getting ill, and the impact it has had on my family. Transitioning back home is a particularly difficult time. For me, one of the most important things is feeling supported and able to take control. That has a huge impact both physically and psychologically.”
Dr. Kendall Ho and his team of researchers in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia are working to support patients during this difficult transition period.
Using a touchscreen tablet and home monitoring technology provided by TELUS Health, patients involved in the TEC4Home study measure their weight, blood pressure, pulse and oxygen saturation daily from the comfort of their own home. These data are automatically sent to a nurse who can check the measurements and follow up if needed.
For some patients, the reassurance of knowing there is someone keeping an eye on their health, who can spot potential problems and intervene early, can mean peace of mind and fewer unnecessary emergency department visits. For clinicians, the data provide extra clues about how a patient is doing.
“This kind of remote monitoring provides a foundation for conversations about health behaviours,” explains Ho. “If we spot a change in a patient’s measurements, we can probe to understand why and go beyond the information they might volunteer themselves. That deeper understanding helps us be more in tune with what that individual needs.
“Plus, being actively engaged in monitoring your health can help patients better understand their condition and optimize their own self-management.”
Although there is huge potential for using remote monitoring in healthcare, there is still some uncertainty about the best way to use these technologies and manage the data they generate.
“I truly believe this type of technology has a big part to play in healthcare, but first we have to understand how to best introduce technology into both the healthcare system and homes. Then, as we understand more about the patterns in a particular patient, or a patient group, we might have the opportunity to predict the chance of deterioration.”
*Roger Stoddard is a member of the SPOR Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovation Network leadership council, a network of networks that is fostering a new alliance between research, policy and practice to support care integration.
This piece was originally published by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, British Columbia’s health research funding agency. Read the original post here.