2016-11-17 / Community News

Seniors experience telehealth

Philip Sherman, with his wife Marion looking on, receives the support he needs “virtually” from his home. (Courtesy photo) Philip Sherman, with his wife Marion looking on, receives the support he needs “virtually” from his home. (Courtesy photo) When MaineHealth Care at Home’s home health care aide Laura Mayberry first presented a telehealth tablet to Philip Sherman, he seemed hesitant to take the device. Mayberry responded by placing the pulse oximeter on her finger to show how the device automatically sends the reading to the care team. She then asked Sherman to step on the scale, and within seconds his weight was displayed on the tablet’s screen.

“Just keep it a few days and give it a try,” Mayberry said. “If you don’t like it, I will take it away.”

Across the country, home health agencies are adopting new technologies designed to extend clinical services, expand access and improve patient outcomes. MaineHealth Care at Home is no exception, as it is recognized for advancing the latest technology to support patients with serious chronic diseases.

Sherman is 93 years old, with heart failure, sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation. He has a history of frequent hospitalizations related to complications from heart failure and a complex medication regime. The tablet offers immediate access to a nurse, technical support or a family caregiver 24 hours a day. This means he can connect with his care team at any time without having to leave the home he shares with Marion, his wife of 68 years.

The Telehealth Program incorporates Internet-enabled tablets, video capacity and monitoring devices along with specialized nursing services. In 2015, MaineHealth Care at Home provided 300 patients with uncompensated telehealth services and achieved a dramatic 75 percent reduction in re-hospitalization rates and high patient satisfaction scores.

“At first, it was overwhelming to learn about tablets, Bluetooth and video connections,” Mayberry said. “Now, my job is to help patients get over their fear of the technology.”

Once Sherman was feeling more comfortable with the tablet, Mayberry taught him how to answer questions tailored for his conditions, such as how he is feeling, if his ankles are swollen, or if he is short of breath. She emphasized that a nurse will monitor his responses every day and call if they have any concerns.

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