The Hays Medical Center will collaborate with selected local specialists and primary care physicians in 18 northwest Kansas counties to use telemedicine to monitor recently discharged hospital patients. Computer-based interactive video, with instruments to measure vital statistics, will be used on a daily basis to provide in-home monitoring of selected vital statistics of medically-fragile patients.
Since 1972, the length of hospital stays has dropped more than 15 percent, with corresponding outpatient visits nearly doubling. Escalating hospital costs and reimbursement issues have converged, resulting in the minimization of stays whenever possible. This telemedicine application will enable attending physicians to monitor and receive important feedback on the vital statistics of discharged patients.
The project is innovative in three ways. First, it will use a newly developed technology that monitors patient vital statistics and allows monitoring nurses to automatically receive, in digital form, the patient's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, weight, temperature, blood glucose level, and heart rate. Second, the new technology is far less expensive than traditional telemedicine methods, and uses existing phone lines to transmit data versus dedicated fiber or ISDN. Third, this project focuses on an important community--patients who are at a vulnerable stage in their recovery having just been discharged from the hospital.
The hope is that using technology for home monitoring will result in better health and sense of well-being; fewer serious medical complications following hospitalizations due to quicker intervention when a problem is identified; and fewer hospital readmissions. Reducing the cost of care for Medicare and Medicaid patients and improving health care delivery to rural areas are additional goals of the project.
Hays Medical Center, Hays Internal Medicine, TeleHealthCare, and northwest Kansas primary care physicians will work together on this project.