Patients take charge of their health care with McKesson telehealth solution

Atlanta 08 July 2004Home health patients and those with chronic illnesses now have an easy way to monitor their health in the privacy of their homes, thanks to the McKesson Telehealth Advisor. McKesson has launched its new remote disease management and monitoring solution as part of the company's strategy focused on helping providers to empower their patients in becoming well-informed and more actively engaged in managing their own health care.

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With Telehealth Advisor, patients collect their vital signs using medical peripherals such as a scale, blood pressure monitor or blood glucose monitor, and transmit the readings to their provider via an easy-to-use electronic device connected to an ordinary phone line. Combined with McKesson's Horizon Homecare system, Telehealth Advisor gives patients a better understanding of their condition and what they can do to maintain optimal health. Providers benefit by increasing the efficiency of their staff nurses while improving patient care through better disease management and patient monitoring.

Involving patients in their own care is critical to effectively managing chronic illness, which affects at least 45 percent of the United States population, nearly 132 million people. In addition to monitoring patient health conditions, Telehealth Advisor educates patients using 14 standard programmes to manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and mental health, as well as related health topics like pain management and wellness. Patients respond to disease-specific questions presented by the telehealth device, which connects to a database containing thousands of questions on 45 of the most common diseases and health subjects. The programmes are based on appropriate standard practice guidelines and use dynamically branching question taxonomy, which allows nurses to easily identify high-risk patients.

Deaconess HomeCare in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, already understands the difference that information technology can make for its staff as well as patients. Using Horizon Homecare, Deaconess has improved efficiency to the tune of more than $198.000 in savings per year. It has demonstrated statistically significant improvements in its patients with surgical wounds. This is evidenced by improving the number of surgical wounds at a rate 20 percent above the national average and in improvement in the status of surgical wounds at a rate 12 percent above the national average. Those positive results made it an easy decision to implement Telehealth Advisor.

"With the addition of Telehealth Advisor, our nurses have a more complete picture of each patient's progress and can focus their attention on the patients who need it most", stated Karen Utterback, vice president of operations, Deaconess HomeCare. "And with the system's automatic stratification and ranking capabilities, we can recognize possible problems before they become acute. This allows us to target care more successfully and saves the patient the physical and mental distress of exacerbated symptoms."

"With an ever-increasing shortage of nurses, rising health care costs, and the number of people over age 65 set to double in the next 25 years, the strain to provide quality, personalized care in the home will only increase", stated Billie Waldo, MS, R.N., vice president of care management, McKesson Provider Technologies. "Telehealth is a proven way to reduce costs by allowing nurses to better manage and monitor a larger group of patients. At the same time, patients benefit by receiving the information they need to improve their own health and decrease costly emergency room visits."

Telehealth Advisor will be offered through a reseller agreement with Health Hero Network, an innovator of technology solutions for remote health monitoring and management. McKesson will offer Health Hero Network's patented Health Buddy system as McKesson Telehealth Advisor and provide integration with Horizon Homecare, giving homecare providers a complete electronic medical record for their patients in one location. McKesson leads the industry in supporting the information needs of homecare organisations, with more than 17.000 nurses and other clinicians relying on Horizon Homecare to support more than 41 million patient visits per year. And, with thousands of caregivers using point-of-care laptop computer devices for home visits, the new telehealth solution is yet another way McKesson is changing the world of home health.

Health Hero Network develops and markets the Health Buddy system for health improvement. The Health Buddy system serves as the interface between patients at home and care providers, facilitating patient education and monitoring of chronic conditions. The system includes monitoring technologies, clinical information databases, Internet-enabled decision support tools, health management programmes and content development tools. Through increased communication, behaviour modification, and prevention, the Health Buddy system improves the quality of care. Based in Mountain View, California, Health Hero Network's systems are protected by over 55 issued US patents.

McKesson Corporation is a Fortune 16 health care services and information technology company dedicated to helping its customers deliver high-quality health care by reducing costs, streamlining processes and improving the quality and safety of patient care. Over the course of its 170-year history, McKesson has grown to provide pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management across the spectrum of care; health care information technology for hospitals, physicians, homecare and payers; hospital and retail pharmacy automation; and services for manufacturers and payers designed to improve outcomes for patients.


Leslie Versweyveld

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