STAPLES - Lakewood Health System, Staples, expanded its care options for rural home care and hospice clients by implementing telehealth technology.
The technology, made possible in part by a $26,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation, Grand Rapids, allows practitioners to communicate and care for their home care patients using telemonitoring.
One of the primary goals of implementing Telehealth is to provide greater access to Home Care and Hospice services.
"This project aims to strengthen our rural service area communities by creating a constant, direct and convenient Telehealth connection between our Home Care/Hospice providers and the home care clients they serve," Tim Rice, chief executive officer and president at Lakewood Health System, said in a news release.
Lakewood reported good candidates for the Telehealth program are identified through an evaluation of past and current health. Once enrolled in the program, a small, easy-to-use telemonitoring machine is set up in the patient's home. Vital signs are checked up to four times a day or as little as once a week-depending on the patient's needs. The machine also can ask disease-specific questions like, "Are you more short of breath today than usual?" These questions assist in early identification of health concerns.
Eleanor Wilkins follows the telemonitoring machines prompt to press start and begin her daily vitals check. Wilkins was the first patient at Lakewood Health System to begin using the Telehealth system.
After the information is collected, it is automatically transmitted to a nurse who monitors the information. If a concern is noted, the nurse will contact the client to see if additional interventions, such as a home visit or contacting the patient's physician, need to be implemented.
The Telehealth program at Lakewood Health System currently has six telemonitoring machines in use.
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