Remote monitoring of congestive heart failure and COPD patients may lower readmission rate

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A pilot program using remote medical monitoring for recently hospitalized congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients resulted in a lower readmission rate, Crain's Detroit Business reported.

Patients in the pilot study had a 3% readmission rate versus 25% for those who were not telemonitored. Pilot study patients were outfitted with remote medical monitoring devices such as wireless weight scales, blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose meters. Home health nurses and therapists instructed patients on using the devices and monitored the data offsite daily. If a patient hadn't entered information by a set deadline, nurses followed up with phone calls to check on the patient. Michigan-based company Residential Home Health LLC conducted the study. Often, seniors with congestive heart failure and COPD are discharged from hospitals to post-acute or skilled-nursing facilities, where blood pressure, weight and glucose levels are closely monitored. Closer coordination here can prevent hospital readmission.

Telemonitoring has its critics. "The technology can help, but we have to look at our workflow and make sure we coordinate care with post-acute providers to keep patients out of the hospital," said Christopher Kim, M.D., a hospitalist at University of Michigan Hospitals, told Crain's.

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