Grant From Verizon Allows VNA Pilot Program to Expand

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Pennsylvania, chronic diseases are the main cause of death and disability. Studies show that post-hospital in-home care is effective in managing acute chronic disease issues, but when patients meet the maximum number of allowable days of payment established by the insurance provider, they are often left without the supervision, intervention and tools to manage their disease on their own.

Thanks to a $15,000 grant from Verizon, Lutheran SeniorLife VNA, western Pennsylvania can now expand its current Stay Well at Home program to demonstrate that extension of in-home care will lead to better patient outcomes, reduced hospitalizations and ultimately to reduced health care costs.

The Stay Well at Home program provides care and monitoring through its TeleHealth monitoring system, a personal response alarm system (PERS) and medication dispensers to people with conditions like heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “This grant will allow us to continue to maintain contact with these patients outside of what the insurance companies allow us to do,” said Rose Furrer, RN, MSN, director of Home Health, Complete Care and Hometech for VNA. “The technology we use in combination with the monitoring and clinical support can help reduce the hospital re-admission rate to almost zero.”

Patients in the program take their vital signs – weight, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen level and temperature – with the TeleHealth monitor which is provided to them as part of the program. Nurses at VNA receive the data instantly and then evaluate the patient’s needs. If necessary, they can initiate immediate action, sending a nurse to the patient’s home where they can administer medications or take other steps toward symptom management. If they do not receive the daily monitoring information from a particular patient, they can call the home or make a visit to check on them.

Another important part of the Stay Well at Home program, Furrer said, is to teach the patients how to recognize and manage minor symptoms in a timely manner before those symptoms become unmanageable, resulting in a trip to the hospital.

“We teach health promotion, not just treat their current symptoms,” Furrer said.

The grant will be used to upgrade the equipment used for disease management and to purchase educational resources to share with their patients.

“Through this program, we hope to support the case for continued third party payment for the in-home treatment for chronic conditions, so that we can improve patient outcomes and prevent them from having to be re-admitted to the hospital,” she said.

Photo at right: Melissa Fazzino, LPN, VNA Home Tech, carefully analyzes a patient's vital signs that were sent to her via the TeleHealth monitoring system.



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