Monitoring vital signs remotely saves time and money for everyone: patients, physicians, facilities and insurers. Heart failure is a particular target because its increasingly common, its easily triggered (by as little as too much salt on food, for example), it costs so much to manage in the hospital, and it’s so easily avoided.
Remote monitoring equipment made even easier with wireless connections can take vital signs, and even ask standard questions every morning. The equipment puts patients in contact with nurses once they detect warning signs. That human touch is key. Case managers can screen out false alarms (avoiding alert fatigue) and can direct patients to the physician when needed. ACP Internist covered remote monitoring technology in its March issue. (Wall Street Journal, ACP Internist)
Ironically, the hospitals themselves are having trouble making the most of the technology they install, reports the American Hospital Association. The group changed its top 100 “Most Wired” hospital list to reflect new standards in infrastructure, administration, clinical quality and safety, and continuity of care in the ambulatory and physician community. Thirty percent of hospitals on last year’s list didn’t make it back this year, and the list had to be pared down to 99 because that’s all that met the criteria. One area of concern is electronic medical record use in affiliated (not owned) practices. Forty-three percent of practices affiliated with a “Most Wired” hospital use one, while 69 percent of owned practices do.
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*