UVA Health and partners expanding remote patient monitoring

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - UVA Health is teaming up with six other organizations to provide at-home monitoring all across the commonwealth. The goal is to help patients in more rural areas get the care they need.

“This kind of involvement could save somebody’s life,” Tri-Area Community Health CEO James Werth said.

Tri-Area Community Health is one of the six organizations included. The others include Bath Community Hospital, Bland County Medical Clinic, Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Central Virginia Health Services and Monacan Indian Nation.

“In two of our counties, there’s no hospital. So by the time somebody’s determined something’s wrong, makes a call, squad gets out there, you know, it could be there could be 20 minutes to 30 minutes difference,” Werth said.

That’s where UVA Health, its six partners, and $700,000 in grant money comes in. The funding comes from the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It will provide each of the partners will reusable patient-monitoring kits. Those will include a variety of things, depending on the patients’ needs, but likely will be tablets with an internet connection and medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and scales.

“We’re now able to help other entities within the state of Virginia provide remote patient monitoring to at-risk patient populations,” Novella Thompson with UVA Health’s Department of Population Health said.

Thompson’s department works with telehealth.

“We provide the patient with an iPad, or they can use their own smart device, and we provide them with patient equipment. Peripherals is what we call them, a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, thermometer scales, different peripherals for different patient needs,” she said.

“We actually can provide the cellular connectivity to the home of the patient so that they can upload their data from their homes, if they don’t have broadband communication services within their home or in their home community. So that’s another advantage and that’s another program that we can leverage in combination with this program, which provides the technology and the support to do so,” Director of the UVA Center for Telehealth Karen Rheuban said.

A team of clinicians will help look over patients at risk, no matter where they are. Right now, the focus is on heart failure and pregnant woman at high risk.

“Those professionals could detect something that maybe even the person isn’t aware is happening. When we’re talking about the heart, things can happen very quickly, and that, you know, minutes can, can make a difference,” Werth said.

The plan is to teach these rural organizations how to use these tools so they can eventually expand and use them on their own.

“This work is to help remove the barriers to healthcare,” Thompson said.

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