HomMed and Nurses That Care to deliver tele-monitoring services to Texas residents with chronic disease

Brookfield 03 April 2001HomMed and Nurses That Care (NTC), headquartered in McAllen, Texas, have entered into a partnership that will enable NTC to provide new, cutting-edge home monitoring services to numerous congestive heart failure and respiratory-compromised individuals. Founded in 1992, NTC comprises a patient-focused team of health care professionals and serves nearly 600 Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and private-pay patients in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy Texas counties. HomMed provides innovative and cost-effective solutions for chronic illness and disease state management.

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"We established a telemedicine programme in December 2000 because we felt that telemedicine technology afforded us the most viable opportunity to continue to provide the best possible nursing services to our patients, in the face of reduced funding sources", stated Andy Sanchez, President and CEO of Nurses That Care. "Our goal is and always has been to offer our patients the best possible nursing services. Access to HomMed's monitoring technology and support as garnered through our partnership will be another service we can provide to further reassure our patients and the medical community of our commitment to providing the best care."

Telemedicine is a rapidly growing form of home care technology, and involves the provision of care, instruction and education to patients in their homes using telecommunication devices. The form of telemedicine known as tele-monitoring incorporates a health monitoring system such as HomMed's that a patient can use to take his or her own vital signs from within the comfort of his own home, and the transmission of that data to a remote monitoring site for clinical evaluation.

"HomMed is committed to the sole mission of developing continually advancing, unparalleled home monitoring technology that will enhance the quality of patients' lives, as well improve health care access and reduce costs", stated Herschel "Buzz" Peddicord, President and CEO of HomMed. "We are proud to add Nurses That Care to the national network of respected partners with whom we can join forces to provide daily health monitoring services."

The simplicity and calibre of HomMed's tele-monitoring system, as well as the company's commitment to forming a true partnership with NTC ultimately led to the two companies joining forces, according to Sanchez. The HomMed Home Monitoring System is one of the only Class II, 510k FDA-approved home health monitoring systems. This hospital-grade system has two units: the Sentry, which collects patient health information, and a central observation station that receives data transmitted from the Sentry for review and analysis.

Each Sentry unit is individually programmed according to parameters established by the patient's physician. It is placed in the patient's home to collect real time vital sign data, as well as specific subjective information such as fatigue levels. At a pre-specified time each morning, a voice prompt instructs the patient to take his vital signs and then guides him through the process. With a few keystrokes from the patient, the Sentry collects such clinical data as heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, weight, temperature, blood glucose levels, and lung function. The Sentry then sends this data to the central observation station located at Nurses That Care facilities for evaluation via digital, wireless technology or traditional phone lines.

The observation station, a workstation running on an NT Windows platform, details a patient's vital signs for a clinician to review and analyse. It displays patient data on a daily basis in a well-organised format which alerts the monitoring clinicians when any vital signs fall outside physician-defined parameters, signalling a potentially dangerous problem which can then be identified and treated before it becomes serious. The central station's information display format also informs clinicians when a patient fails to take any or all of his vital signs, allowing the monitoring clinician to arrange for immediate follow-up.

NTC provides such home health services as skilled nursing; medical social services; home health aid services; home intravenous therapy; paediatric home health services; and physical, occupational and speech therapies. Through its sister company, Nurses That Care Sitter Services Inc., and Sun Valley Adult Health Center, the privately owned NTC service agency provides primary home care, community-based alternatives, and adult day care services under the Medicaid programme. NTC also is certified to perform laboratory testing at the patient's home and to accept human specimens for laboratory examinations.

Located in the Milwaukee area, HomMed was founded to help clinicians improve health care delivery and enhance quality of life for chronically ill patients while reducing health care costs to individuals and to the public. HomMed's Home Monitoring System has been shown to reduce emergency room visits and hospital admissions by helping clinicians identify and appropriately treat patients before their conditions become serious. More details about the HomMed tele-monitoring system are available in the VMW January 2001 article Georgetown University Medical Center to study telemedicine's impact on heart disease management.


Leslie Versweyveld

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