BUFFALO, Mo., April 4, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When you're managing multiple health conditions, life is complicated. When you live alone after the death of a loved one, it can be scary.
That was Mark Heady's predicament. The 61-year-old has congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, multiple sclerosis and issues with balance. He found himself alone in his rural Buffalo, Missouri, home, trying to manage.
"I was showing up more often to my doctor's office," Heady said.
Mercy Virtual's team thought Heady could benefit from its relatively new program called Engagement@Home. It brings health care providers to the patient, virtually, through a secure internet connection, a tablet and wireless monitoring equipment.
"Because of Mark's multiple and complicated medical conditions – and the fact that he lives alone - I thought it would be good for us to keep a closer "medical eye" on him," explained Dr. Patrick Dopp, who's been Heady's family doctor for decades.
Each morning, Heady takes his weight, pulse, oxygen levels and blood pressure on devices that link to the tablet. Those readings then alert the Mercy Virtual team to sudden changes. They might tweak his medication or make simple suggestions, like drinking more water. He also has twice-a-week appointments with a Mercy Virtual caregiver, and can always call them for help.
"It's a two-way street," he explained. "They let me know if something looks wrong and I can hit a button and let them know if I don't feel well. I'm basically in touch with the health care system all the time."
Other patients are also seeing results. "Mercy's Virtual Care Center, in collaboration with the traditional care team, has decreased unnecessary hospitalization and emergency room visits by 50 percent," said Dr. Gavin Helton, Mercy Virtual's medical director of ambulatory medicine. "That's a huge improvement in these patients' quality of life."
Dr. Dopp gets updates on Heady's health through Mercy's electronic health record and couldn't be more pleased. "He is doing the best he ever has," Dr. Dopp said.
Engagement@Home isn't for every patient. It's targeted to those with multiple chronic conditions who are repeatedly in the emergency room and hospital. The Mercy Virtual team works with family doctors to identify patients who might benefit.
"I can't believe I was rejecting this technology stuff like crazy," Heady said. "And now it's my lifeline."
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