Medical Monitoring Goes Mobile

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , August 13, 2013
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"If you can interject something with mobility that allows for simplicity, and really just does the work to support the patient, rather than making the patient do 10,000 other things that are just not intuitive to them, I think there's a real win there that really gets at the promise of what mobility will offer," Roth says.

One last example of mobile health saving lives is at Health Quest, an alliance of three hospitals in the Hudson Valley region of New York. In the past year, Health Quest has seen a steady decline of 20% to 30% in the time required to open arteries for emergency patients, says Daniel O'Dea, MD, Health Quest director of cardiovascular services.

In part, Health Quest achieved this by deploying the AirStrip system to ambulances within its service area, O'Dea says. EKGs, taken by paramedics and transmitted to the AirStrip app, "can be looked at by the emergency room doctors even before the patient arrives at the hospital," O'Dea says. "This allows us then to activate the team before the patient arrives at the hospital. So while the patient is coming to the hospital, the team is also coming to the hospital, so those two things occur in parallel rather than in series."

As for postacute and home monitoring, O'Dea says the technology has a role to play, even if the monitoring itself has the potential downside of unnerving patients, as Mattison described.

"If you have a reminder that you do have a chronic disease that needs to be managed on an ongoing basis, such as heart failure, where there are specific things that you need to do to take care of yourself—you need to weigh yourself, you need to watch your fluid intake, you need to watch your salt intake—it's easy for patients, once they leave the acute care center and go into the home setting, to forget and to revert to their old ways and go back to eating the same things that they always ate and doing the same things they always did," O'Dea says.

"If there's something around us reminding you that you do have a chronic illness, that may actually increase adherence to medications, diet. Things like that that are going to have a positive effect, so you have to weigh the two of them, and you have to know your patient, really, to understand that."

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This article appears in the July/August issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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