‘Information in front of us:’ Home-based health monitoring trial for rural patientsBlau Medical News
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Jul 26, 2020 • • 2 minute read
A newly launched remote health monitoring system is the next best thing to an in-patient visit, says a 70-year-old patient and a rural Alberta nurse.
Over the next three months, 50 patients from Wolf Creek, Drayton Valley and Kalyna Country will be having their vitals checked with devices they can use at home instead of travelling to health care facilities.
Drayton Valley nurse Bryanna Efird said the technology allows her to monitor patients more thoroughly as she’s provided information daily instead of when a patient visits, often just month-to-month.
“With COVID-19, we found that we had to do a lot of appointments over the phone,” she said. “(With this) we have the information in front of us on the computer versus having to call and sit through every little detail.”
Don Fricke, who lives in Buck Lake, which is more than 150 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, is one of the patients participating in the trial.
In order to attend an appointment with a health-care worker, the 70-year-old, who has diabetes, has to ask one of his daughters to drive him half an hour into Drayton Valley. The journey into town is made even harder after he lost half of each of his feet as a result of the disease in May.
Since starting the trial, he spends about 10 minutes each day putting information like his blood sugar levels, temperature and weight into a tablet, information that’s then sent directly to Efird and the other nurses.
“It’s good because if they see something that they think I should know about, they tell me, and if they see something that a doctor should know they tell the doctor, so I’m pretty well looked after every day,” he said. “I think it’s is a good idea. They keep better (track).”
Efird believes the remote system could eventually mean a reduction in emergency visits and catch things like blood sugar spikes in diabetics before the issue results in a hospital stay.
“It’s never going to replace in-person visits but if this helps to keep the patient out of the hospital … no one likes spending time in hospital.”
The trial is in collaboration with Alberta Central Zone Primary Care Networks (PCN), Telus Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Alberta Health Services and Edmonton Health City, a non-profit corporation.
Edmonton Health City chief executive officer Reg Joseph said the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in showing how viable virtual care could be.
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“The health system (realized) that unnecessarily risking patients by having them come into a centralized location where they could be infected doesn’t make sense, particularly if it’s ongoing management of some chronic disease,” he said. “So because the province and a lot of our health care providers have started to looking at this in this way, that’s opened up the door for us to even consider something like this.”
Joseph said after 90 days since the start of the trial, there will be a review with the possibility of expanding it to include more patients and chronic diseases.