South Jersey Healthcare Homecare links telehealth monitoring and point-of-care systems to improve patient care and clinical job satisfaction

Lancaster 07 May 2006Thornberry Ltd. and FGA Software Solutions, developers of power2, a Web-based clinical and financial information management system for home care agencies and hospice, achieved the latest successful implementation of a telehealth interface solution, for South Jersey Healthcare HomeCare in Salem, New Jersey.

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The interface solution links the home care agency's telehealth monitoring equipment from Honeywell HomMed, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the clinical Point of Care (POC) and financial information management system from Thornberry and FGA. This follows an earlier successful installation of the same interface at Twin Tier Home Health of Binghamton, New York.

According to South Jersey Healthcare HomeCare Clinical Director Diane Levan, the South Jersey agency started using telehealth monitoring in early 2005 and currently has 60-65 units in patient's homes at any given time. "We are continuing to introduce more monitors, and have another 31 on order to make available to private paying individuals."

Measurements such as heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse oximetry or blood oxygen content captured by HomMed equipment in patient homes is sent electronically, via Skytel satellite or phone line, to an agency-based HomMed central repository. The new interface automatically extracts this data and merges it for seamless presentation to nurses and therapists. With this interface, power2 and NDoc users are fully equipped at the point of service to make patient care decisions based on all available clinical data, including telehealth, according to Thornberry President Tom Peth.

Use of the monitors in combination with Thornberry's Point of Care solution NDoc or power2 from Thornberry and FGA, means nurses now carry a caseload of up to 40 patients, the majority of which are on monitors, said Diane Levan.

"We've been using NDoc and PROPHIT from Thornberry and FGA for the past nine years and Thornberry was very willing to design an interface that would enable us to instantly review and act on the results of the telehealth information. Using their laptops, the nurses can start their day from home with the entire patient chart at their fingertips, and they can now see and review results with a patient when they are in the patient's home instead of waiting for them to be faxed to them at the end of the day. It greatly increases patient involvement in their own health care."

"The reaction from nurses and patients has been extremely positive. There is an increased sense of security for patients in knowing they are being watched for subtle changes and for the nurses who can now respond with early interventions when a change in condition occurs and when a patient is having a problem, rather than making a random visit."

It is not just patients and nurses who will benefit from the new electronic integration of telehealth data and clinical point of care management software. Less paperwork and printing out and faxing of results, and most importantly the ability to decrease patient visits while at the same time improving patient care and care-planning, and reducing re-hospitalizations, has the ability to improve agency profit margins, explained Diane Levan.

The Honeywell HomMed interface is just one of several Health Level Seven (HL7) telehealth interfaces Thornberry is preparing for its customers, stated Tom Peth. "The use of telehealth in home care is growing rapidly, and we believe there is significant value to the integration of telehealth data into the power2 and NDoc electronic medical records. Demand is being driven by our customers, who work with a variety of different telehealth vendors."

In addition to already installed and planned interfaces for a number of clients using HomMed's monitors, including South Jersey Healthcare HomeCare, Twin Tier Home Health, Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, a member of Solaris Health Systems, Warren County Public Health Nursing and LaPorte VNA Home Care, Thornberry is actively designing interface solutions that will work with telehealth monitoring equipment from Advanced Monitored Caregiving and WebVMC. More are planned to follow, added Tom Peth.

South Jersey Healthcare (SJH) HomeCare is part of South Jersey Healthcare Community Services, which in turn is part of South Jersey Healthcare, a charitable, non-profit health organisation where hospitals and doctors work together to provide quality care. SJH is dedicated to providing the citizens of the Delaware Valley high-quality health care in their own community.

Thornberry Ltd. is based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is a provider of information systems to the health care industry, specializing in clinical documentation systems since 1992 and home health point-of-care since 1996. Thornberry systems, including NDoc and Power2, are designed by health care providers as well as information systems professionals, and are thoroughly user-tested. They combine advanced Web-based technology and progressive design for truly dependable, truly flexible, state of the field performance.

FGA Software Solutions is a health care consulting firm that specializes in financial software products and support services for the home care industry. Based in Piscataway, New Jersey since 1989, FGA has worked with clients as a partner to streamline operations for enhanced cash flow and long-term success. With decades of administrative, financial and clinical management skills, the company has helped design products and services, including PROPHIT and Power2 that are used by many of today's health care agencies.


Leslie Versweyveld

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