Telemonitoring Offers Home Care Patients Improved Health, Peace Of Mind

Living with a serious medical condition like congestive heart failure (CHF) often means days of uncertainty and fear...

Neighborhood Health Agencies using Health Buddy appliance as part of comprehensive care plan

West Chester, PA - Living with a serious medical condition like congestive heart failure (CHF) often means days of uncertainty and fear.

"You are constantly trying to guess if your symptoms are reaching the point where you need to call the doctor, or worse," said Carrie Ballentine, 78, of Downingtown, PA. "Sometimes you don't even realize you are feeling poorly until things are pretty bad."

CHF patients like Mrs. Ballentine must constantly monitor – and battle – a build-up of fluid in the lungs, legs and other parts of the body, caused by the heart pumping ineffectively. Symptoms can quickly elevate to a critical point where an emergency room visit or hospitalization is required.

Since October 2004, many of Mrs. Ballentine's fears have been alleviated, thanks to a new "buddy" she's made through her home health care provider, Neighborhood Health Agencies (NHA). The Health Buddy® appliance is a tabletop monitoring device that allows patients to self-monitor vital signs and other health indicators, such as weight, temperature, blood sugar and pulse. It also asks a series of health-related questions, regarding how they feel, eating habits, medications, etc. Once recorded, the information is transmitted to a nurse, who assesses the information for any alerts. If something looks out of line – based on

pre-determined patient standards – a nurse is able to quickly intervene with medication adjustment or other treatment.

"I just love my Health Buddy. It is so easy to use, and it makes me feel more connected to my nurse," said Mrs. Ballentine. "Buddy is such an appropriate name."

As an added bonus, the device offers educational support and even a daily health trivia question, which patients seem to enjoy. "I really like the way the it helps educate me about her disease and its management," said John Ballentine, Carrie's husband. "It makes me feel a part of her care."

The Health Buddy system can be programmed in English or Spanish for 45 different health management programs, including hypertension, diabetes and heart failure. Easy to use, the Health Buddy only requires the ability to read, answer questions, and perform simple tasks, such as putting a blood pressure cuff on the arm. For patients without serious medical conditions, it can be used as a component of a senior wellness program, monitored by a private duty nurse.

NHA purchased the monitors with the help from a grant from the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

"Pennsylvania is the second highest telemedicine state in the country, and we are big believers in telemonitoring devices like the Health Buddy. Not only does it improve the level of care that we can provide to our patients, but it also empowers them so they take a personal interest and involvement in their health," said Stephanie Kessler, RN, MSN, Telehealth Nurse Specialist.

Mrs. Ballentine's cardiologist, William Clay Warnick, MD, agrees.

"The Health Buddy presents another innovative tool to help us care for patients with chronic disease management By monitoring disease signs and symptoms, such as daily weights, we can prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and provide better care," said Dr. Warnick, MD.

For more information about the Health Buddy appliance or other services provided by Neighborhood Health Agencies, please call 610-696-6511 and ask for the Telehealth nurse.

SOURCE: Neighborhood Health Agencies, Inc.