At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Franciscan Health created a remote patient monitoring program that used telehealth technology to allow patients with coronavirus to recover in the comfort of their home.
Franciscan Health Crown Point Vice President of Medical Affairs Erik Mikaitis, MD, said, “Our number one priority in this work was to keep our patients safe by providing them with additional support. This program gave them a way to self-monitor symptoms and provided a robust follow-up process with our physicians.”
Patients selected for the program are given a kit to monitor their health, along with clinical support to empower their recovery. The equipment includes a pulse oximeter, a thermometer and an incentive spirometer, as well as a log to track their readings. Before the patient is sent home, a respiratory therapist goes over the educational material, showing them how to log their vital signs for the nurse or respiratory therapist who will contact them daily for the next week.
One of the patients who recovered with the help of the program is Crown Point Mayor David Uran, who tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020. “I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to recover as fast as I could or got back to work as soon as I could without the remote patient monitoring program,” he said.
“The kit was fantastic. It gives you all the information from A to Z. How to start it, what to do, when to check your temperature or do your breathing exercises or check your oxygen levels,” he added.
Mayor Uran received calls from the provider consistently at the same time each day, so he was prepared with the information. “That person had an investment in you, understood your vitals, understood the process you were going through and felt like they were going to give you the one-on-one that you would get in an office setting, but you were getting it in the comfort of your own home,” he said.
That daily contact is a key part of the program, said Franciscan ACO care team Director Trish Gagliardi, RN. “We are able to maintain connection to our patients in high volume and not just support their clinical needs, but also their social and emotional needs through the seven-day contact.”
Family medicine physician Emmett Robinson, MD, says more than 90 percent of the patients he’s seen were able to complete their full recovery at home. There are some, however, who do eventually require care at the emergency room.
“The best part about that is that they were able to reach out to us, and we were able to assess them quickly and make sure they got to the hospital before things got really severe or critical,” Dr. Robinson said.
While the pandemic accelerated Franciscan Health’s use of remote patient monitoring, it will take years for the program to mature and become mainstream in uses beyond COVID-19.
“We know this can be done but we need to reframe our mindset and change how we think of the healthcare system,” said Randall Moore, MD, senior vice president and COO of Health and Care Solutions at Franciscan Alliance.
“The wall between home and hospital is progressively disappearing, being replaced by a complete care continuum,” Dr. Moore added, noting that a patient’s home “can be a much friendlier, easier, more convenient place to receive the care that you need.”
To learn more about Franciscan Health’s remote patient monitoring program, you can view an online video below.