By Hilary A Sojdak, PMHNP
Over the past several years the delivery of healthcare has experienced a dis-integration of patient information. The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has further driven this need to be one of utmost important. Restrictions in travel for logistical and health reasons have caused more and more people to seek out Health Care via Tele health vehicles. While it has allowed greater access to healthcare providers for the patients it has also has created a problem; how to monitor the patients during the longer periods between office visits.
Patients on medication and with chronic conditions, physical and behavioral, require continuous monitoring. In addition there is a greater need to integrate behavioral healthcare with general medical care to aid the patient and getting the needed services and healthcare providers with the needed information to make decisions. The traditional healthcare model of providers not knowing a patients status until an office visit is only reactive to the medical needs of a patient. In response to this we have created a proactive Telehealth model which combines virtual care and remote patient monitoring.
Utilizing technologies and our healthcare experience of almost 50 years we have created an entity called Integrated Telehealth Services. We have utilized biometric data collection that utilizes smart phones and obtains the information through an app on the phone . The patient simply opens the App, positions the phone and follows the prompts. There are simple questions that the patient can answer on the phone that gives us Behavioral health and physical health information needed to assess health status. This information becomes available for the healthcare provider instantly and this process is assisted by one of our employees to facilitate the process as needed. We have drawn from the PHQ9 assessment for Depression, The Rothman Index for Physical Health Status, the G-Dig assessment from Genomind that assists in looking at the patient’s medication interactions as well as the biometric information. The result is an ongoing monitor of a patients vital signs and general health status. Their healthcare provider can use this information daily and be able to intercede by whatever modality they prefer.
Our company serves as an integrating conduit of information to make the task of the treating provider easier and the patient care better.
One of the features offered is the ability to set “targets” for the metrics we are collecting. An example might be a systolic blood pressure of 135. Should the biometric reading be 140 mmhg we will be alerted and we would contact the patient and see if there are any acute difficulties. We may then watch the readings over the next few days or notify the healthcare provider the same day, based on the orders of the healthcare provider. Again we are facilitating the passage of healthcare information between the patient and their provider. Similarly if a patient is receiving anti-depressant medication there can be fluctuations in the biometric readings and these too will get to the attention of the appropriate healthcare provider. Early detection of changes can forestall a symptom regression and hasten a proactive response.
The biometric data collection system is based on facial recognition technology similar to what is being deployed to the airline industry internationally. It is projected that in the near future it can be used to pre-screen people’s status prior to entry onto planes or returning to work after an illness. This has become a focus during the Covid-19 pandemic and we will be using that type of technology. Often patients have a series of procedures done in an office and this process can allow monitoring between visits. This is true for both behavioral health services as well as general medical services. The uses are many.
Over the next 60 days we will be doing several trials looking at how the process works in behavioral and general medical areas. Several of the participants will be physical health and a comparable number will be behavioral health. The trials will last 6-8 weeks utilizing a Smartphone app and Bluetooth biometric device(s). Patients will receive initial instructions from our clinical agent (either in person or virtually) in their providers’ office on how to use the app and device(s) and will be interviewed in order to create a baseline. Each patient will receive a weekly virtual visit from a designated provider. Once completed we will begin offering these services. ITS (Integrated Telehealth Services) is a local company and we can be reached at 800-456-7280.
We look forward to continuing to serve SW Florida in a compassionate and technologically sound manner.
6804 Porto Fino Cir #1, Fort Myers, FL 33912