Connecting Patients to Virtual Home Health

MaineHealth Care at Home

When home healthcare aide Laura Mayberry first presented a telehealth tablet to Philip Sherman, he seemed hesitant to take the device. Laura 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 Philip 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,” said Laura. “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 highly recognized for advancing the latest technology to support patients with serious chronic diseases.

Philip 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 rehospitalization rates and high patient satisfaction scores. Success is attributed to an innovative telehealth platform, experienced monitoring nurses, and home healthcare aides like Laura who help patients gain confidence with technology.

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

Once Philip was feeling more comfortable with the tablet, Laura 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.

“This program is great. It will keep me in the home I built and where I want to be,” said Philip.

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