The Future is Now: Virtual Health, Tech Advances Ease Patient CareTop Trends
The right care, in the right place and at the right time.
For some Lee Health patients, thanks to technology and the Lee Health Virtual Program, that “right place” has taken on a whole new meaning. Instead of traveling to a doctor’s office or the hospital, patients can receive the “right care” based on their personal needs where they are most comfortable—in their homes.
Dr. Zsolt Kulcsar (“Kool-char”), Medical Director of Lee Health Virtual Health, says the program provides the same hands-on, compassionate care patients get from a face-to-face visit with their medical healthcare providers but within the comfort of their own home.
The idea of the program revolves around improving access to care.
“The virtual program was designed to improve access to care for patients who live in remote locations, who are unable to travel for health reasons, or who have chronic needs and often require hospitalization. This patient population would significantly benefit from the continuation of care and monitoring in the home,” Dr. Kulcsar says.
“The program’s remote patient monitoring allows Lee Health clinicians to virtually track and monitor a patient’s health in real-time and intervene when needed to prevent worsening health conditions. Our goal is to lower a community’s hospital admissions, readmissions, and unnecessary emergency room visits.”
Rolling out the program
Lee Health found an ideal partner to roll out the program in Health Recovery Solutions, a leader in providing advanced telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions whose goal is in lock step with Lee Health’s: improving patient outcomes and the patient experience.
Telehealth patients are identified and approved for the program by their primary care and specialty providers.
During office visits or before discharge from the hospital, patients learn about the telehealth kit and technology. The kit includes a 4G tablet and biometric monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors, scales and pulse oximeters—everything required for remote, at-home healthcare services.
“The tablet has its own cell service. A patient doesn’t need a smart device, Wi-Fi, or cable service in the home. The ready-made kit takes care of all that,” Dr. Kulcsar says. “Not only is the kit convenient, but it helps empower our patients to partner with us to take control of their healthcare.”
HRS ships the telehealth kits to the patient’s home within 48 hours after they leave the doctor’s office or hospital. The devices are class ll FDA-approved medical devices, and near medical grade quality, you’d find in a healthcare facility.
Within an hour after the kit has been delivered to the patient’s home, an HRS Engagement Specialist calls the patient, reviews the virtual care technology and helps the patient record their first vital signs.
After the technology is set up, the patient is assigned a Lee Health nurse who will schedule a visit to the home and teach them how to use the devices so they can self-monitor their vital signs.
The hands-on approach increases patients' comfort level with the technology and their long-term engagement with it, Dr. Kulcsar says.
“Under clinical supervision, patients learn how to send us their vital signs: blood pressure, oxygen level, heart rate, and weight,” he explains. “We can monitor their condition remotely and if any of these critical factors indicate they might be having a health issue.”
New solutions on the way
Lee Health clinicians monitor patients daily, responding to risk alerts based on reported vitals and symptoms. To quickly evaluate patients and address concerns, Lee Health nurses can contact patients through the tablet via text messaging, phone calls, or virtual visits.
Lee Health looks to expand its virtual health services further to patients in the women’s health space with a focus on high-risk pregnancy and post-partum care, amongst a few, as part of its commitment to discovering new solutions and implementing innovative programs that deliver care to patients at home.
Digital health is transforming how we provide medical care and giving patients more options in seeking the right care in the right place and at the right time.