Sunday, June 3, 2012

Smart Phones Help CHF Patients

The Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) recently enrolled the first group of patients into their new program called “Care Beyond Walls and Wires”. According to the federal government 25 to 50 percent of CHF patients are rehospitalized within three to six months of a hospital discharge. The primary reasons for rehospitalization are that patients are not taking medications as prescribed, failure to follow a dietary plan, or do not know the early signs of CHF, or have clear instructions on how to follow-up with a healthcare after leaving the hospital.

The patients discharged from FMC following an admission for CHF or a related cardiac condition and are at high risk for readmission will be invited to participate in the project. Participants will be provided in-home monitoring equipment, mobile phones and training.

Qualcomm is donating wireless devices to FMC to support the program, Zephyr is providing advanced health monitoring systems, and Verizon Wireless is providing 3G enabled Motorola Droid X2 smart phones. The tools collect and transfer critical data, such as weight, blood pressure, activity, and other important health indicators to nurses at FMC as they follow patients enrolled in the program.

Information is sent daily for three to six months after the patient’s discharge from the hospital. By using the technology, healthcare professionals will be able to detect a decline in a patient’s health status early and intervene immediately.

It is estimated that many of the project’s participants live in underserved and rural communities or they live on Native American Reservations. The wireless capabilities of the program are especially important to the Native American population since they live in outlying areas where landline phones may not be available.

NIH is also assisting FMC with project planning and evaluation through their Office of Public-Private Partnership and help is being provided through NIH’s National Heart Lungs and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The North County Healthcare Clinics and the Indian Health Service’s Native American Cardiology Program are also participating in the program.