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MEDIA RELEASE

CONTACT:
Cindy Ficorelli
Phone: (810) 606-6270
Fax: (810) 606-6279
caficorelli@genesys.org

01/23/2006

Genesys monitors patients every day from their homes; New Telehealth system helps CHF patients

(Editor's note: If you would like to interview a patient who is benefitting from the TeleHealth service, and the physician who oversees the program, please call the Genesys Marketing department at 606-6270.)
(GENESEE COUNTY, MI) A home monitoring system in use at Genesys helps improve quality of life, reduces repeated visits to a hospital emergency department, and decreases recurring hospitalizations, while providing patients with sense of security as they live with congestive heart failure - a common, complex, chronic illness that affects millions of Americans.

Every day, clinicians at Genesys obtain necessary information to closely monitor this group of patients while they remain in the comfort of their home.

TeleHealth, the name of this early intervention monitoring service, "helps Genesys deliver the highest quality of care to patients who are very sick; patients who want to stay at home and live as independently as possible, without worrying from day to day about a change in their health status," reports Clark Headrick, DO, medical director of Genesys Home & Hospice Care, and medical advisor for TeleHealth.

Almost 36 million Americans are age 65 and older. By the year 2030, this number will double to about 72 million, or 20 percent of the nation's population.

"As this number grows, so will the need for medical care, especially for those suffering from chronic illnesses like congestive heart failure," Dr. Headrick points out.

A study by the federal government's Agency for Health Care Research Quality found that about 70 percent of all health care expenditures are related to chronic disease.

According to Dr. Headrick, when patients with chronic, unstable illnesses are monitored daily, irregularities in their condition can be caught before they intensify and require a hospitalization. Early detection and prompt treatment can halt further decline.

Here's how the system works:

Every morning, a friendly, gentle voice from the monitor reminds TeleHealth patients it is time to begin the self-monitoring process, which takes less than five minutes. The "voice" guides patients through simple, easy-to-follow steps that include checking weight, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation levels and temperature. Once vital signs are complete, the "voice" asks patients a series of questions customized to each patient's particular health needs. Patients push a "yes" or "no" button on the monitor when responding to the questions. All of this information on the patients' health status automatically is transmitted within minutes to a central station at Genesys Home & Hospice Care, where it is reviewed by a clinician. If the clinician notices even the slightest abnormality, the patient's physician and nurse are notified right away.

"The central monitoring station at Genesys also sends alerts over the screen, signaling that a patient may have a medical condition that requires immediate attention," Dr. Headrick explains.
A clinician will review the information and call the patient to determine what type of intervention is needed, such as changes in diet, adjustments in medication, or physician instructions, he points out.

"By tracking this information seven days a week, we can intervene at the time most advantageous for the patient's health," Dr. Headrick finds. "If a patient is having problems with medication, for example, the patient's physician can make this change the same day. This step alone can prevent a hospital emergency visit because it was detected so quickly. This truly can alter the course of a very serious illness."

In addition, home care nurses will see patients based on their clinical needs, at times that are most beneficial to the patient, Dr. Headrick notes. Nurses will continue to make regular patient visits once or twice a week, and more if needed; and clinicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he adds.

Flushing resident JoAnne Haskell is proof the system works. Before she began using TeleHealth, "it seemed like I would just get home from the hospital for a few days, and then I'd have to go back. I've been home for about four months now," she is happy to report. The congestive heart failure patient is able to live at home with her family, thanks to her daily monitoring with Genesys.

"I feel like I have some control over my health," Haskell finds, "and that gives me a real sense of security."

She keeps the monitor in her bedroom. "My 'girlfriend' (the voice from the monitor) wakes me up every morning to remind me it's time to take my vitals," she smiles. The monitor is small enough to fit easily on a nightstand. It weighs about three pounds.

In just a few short months since the installation of TeleHealth - complemented with the Genesys clinical management home care team and the patient's primary care doctor - hospitalizations and emergent care visits for TeleHealth congestive heart failure patients have decreased significantly, while quality of life for these individuals has improved, Dr. Headrick finds.

"TeleHealth offers patients a sense of security and relief, knowing someone is watching over them 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he adds. "Patients also become more aware of their condition and understand the effects diet, activity and other factors have on their health with the daily feedback from the monitor and the nurse clinician."

Genesys is one of only about 300 clinical sites across the US, Canada and Germany to use this type of home monitoring system. At any given time, about 30 to 40 Genesys patients are benefiting from TeleHealth.

"We are excited to be on the cutting edge of this new technology that really makes a difference in the quality of life for our patients," Dr. Headrick finds.

For more information on TeleHealth, call Genesys Home & Hospice Care at (810) 762-4418, or talk with your family physician.

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