Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, providers at Access Health Louisiana’s two St. Charles Parish health clinics noticed a troubling trend — there became a large void in being able to obtain the necessary vitals, such as blood pressure readings, of patients who were strictly adhering to stay-at-home orders.
Because those vitals provide critical information to guide providers’ decision making in a patients’ treatment plan, clinic administration quickly began seeking funding and partners to help provide home monitoring equipment to bridge the digital divide that was created with virtual visits.
The hard work paid off, and by the fall of 2020 AHL launched its very own remote patient monitoring program in St. Charles Parish.
“The intent of the program is to help our patients stay ‘connected’ with their provider outside of and in-between their regular visits,” Chatrian Kanger, senior vice president of AHL’s population health department, said. “It’s more than just handing out a piece of equipment. Everyone is on board. Our analytics teams work to identify patients that could benefit from remote monitoring, such as a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes, patients who experience ‘white coat syndrome’ and patients who have elevated blood pressure or blood sugar readings.”
Kanger said feedback from provider teams and patients about their experiences so far has been positive.
“Overwhelmingly it’s a success,” she said. “Patients find the equipment easy to use, and providers appreciate the added insight into how their patients are responding to treatment plans at home.”
Leslie Prestenbach, a family nurse practitioner at the St. Charles Community Health Center in Luling, said the home monitoring system is helpful in giving providers a more accurate picture of the patient’s day to day health.
“The home monitoring capability gives me the opportunity to review a patient’s information in a collective way, and it allows me to offer more education and feedback at the time of the visit instead of having to wait for the regular appointments,” Prestenbach said. “This pandemic is speeding up the evolution of healthcare and I think this will be something that will be helpful and utilized for years to come.”
She said vitals are taken in the comfort of a patient’s home and providers receive more information to analyze than they would at a routine visit.
“The utilization of digital nursing to get information has been extremely helpful during the pandemic, and overall this process is extremely helpful,” she said.
Danielle Barrios, an AHL health coach, said the home monitoring kit makes life easier for patients.
“Our providers will know what the patient’s levels are doing in a more relaxed environment,” she said. “The kit promotes autonomy with our patients by making them more accountable for their readings at home.”
Kanger said the free home monitoring is available to patients now through grant funding, and that AHL is monitoring the program’s success and sharing experiences with local health plans to explore reimbursement opportunities for the future.