Providing out-patients with monitoring systems tied to smart phones so they can report progress to doctors is a good call, according to healthcare providers.
At the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, for instance, a mobile remote monitoring pilot project that hands Samsung smart phones to 30 breast cancer and 30 orthopedic out-patients not only improved the frequency and accuracy of their reports, the system also reduce pateint re-admissions, emergency room log jams and helped the hospital cut expenses by as much as 30 per cent, a mobile health care conference in Toronto was told Thursday.
With the hospital’s new focus on providing ambulatory care that cuts down patients’ post-operation stay in the hospital from an average of 6.5 days to just 18 hours, Women’s College, a couple of years ago, began looking for a system that would help them keep tabs of their out-patients’ progress.
“The first 30 days after an operation is critical,” said Dr. John Semple, surgeon in chief and head of the plastic surgery division at Women’s College. “It is within this period that most complications and re-admissions occur.”
Speaking at the Mobile Health Care Summit in Toronto yesterday, Semple said Women’s College partnered with Samsung, wireless service provider Rogers Communications and e-commerce and software-as-a-service hosting firm Tenzig Managed IT Services in a six-month project which sought to provide healthcare providers better insight into their patients’ recovery process.
The program involved a brief health assessment questionnaire embedded on Samsung Android-powered smart phones given to the patients. The questionnaire had to be answered and transmitted to their healthcare provider regularly. Patients also had to routinely take photos with the smart phones of their operation area or injuries and send the images back to the hospital.
Women’s College said it costs the healthcare system as much as $224,635 per 100 patients to cover expenses associated with out-patient care and re-admission. By using tools like the smart phone patient monitoring system, Semple said the cost can be cut by as much as 30 per cent.
A similar program to monitor mental health patients was initiated by the Lawson Health Research Institute, London Health Science Centre, the Canada Mental Health Association – London, Middlesex and Telus Health, the tele home care and e-health record division of Telus.
The program included an easy –to-use mobile apps that let patients:
- Indicate their moods and physical state at certain periods of the day;
- Record medication intake and side effects;
- Make specific reports available to the appropriate healthcare providers;
- Immediately contact essential people in their circle or care in case of emergency