February 19, 2015


Remote Patient Monitoring Lets Doctors Spot Trouble Early (JONATHAN D. ROCKOFF, Feb. 16, 2015, WSJ)

Richard Setzenfand had a wireless router installed in his Pittsburgh home last fall. But it wasn't for surfing the Internet or streaming video to his computer.

The router was sent by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to track how Mr. Setzenfand's diseased heart was doing. The device wirelessly collects the measurements taken in the patient's home by a scale, blood-pressure cuff and fingertip blood-oxygen meter, and sends them to the medical center.

Based on those transmissions, Mr. Setzenfand's doctor adjusted the doses of two blood-pressure drugs without the patient needing to visit the doctor or ending up in the emergency room. "I don't have to do anything other than use the equipment," says Mr. Setzenfand, a 78-year-old retired accountant. [...]
Vidant, which started its program in February 2012, has 600 to 700 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes and high blood pressure participating in its remote-monitoring program at any one time. Each receives various devices to measure blood pressure and other vital signs, along with a transmitting device to send the data via cellular service to Vidant.

Hospital admissions for these patients fell 74% in 2013 and dropped 54% during the first eight months of last year from the same period a year earlier, to 192, according to Dr. Rumans.

Remote-monitoring programs tend to focus on serious, chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, which typically have resulted in repeat hospitalizations. Readmissions for these conditions are a major health-care expense, and Medicare has begun penalizing hospital systems with high readmission rates.

"We are under considerable pressure all around to deliver better outcomes and keep costs down," says Ravi Ramani, director of the Integrated Heart Failure Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, or UPMC. "What we're trying to do is use technology" to further those efforts.

Posted by at February 19, 2015 2:15 PM

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