West Virginia U telehealth pilot aims to prevent hospital readmissions

Morgantown-based West Virginia University researchers are piloting a one-year intervention program that aims to use telehealth to help remotely monitor patients' health in order to prevent hospital and emergency department readmissions. 

The program will begin this fall and will accept 30 participants. Individuals who enroll must live in rural areas of West Virginia and receive services through Medicaid's "traumatic brain injury" or "aged and disabled" waiver programs, according to the news release. Additionally, participants must have recently left a long-term care facility and will have various health conditions they need to manage at home, including diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Participants will receive the following equipment in their homes: a scale, a thermometer and devices to track glucose levels, blood pressure and blood oxygenation. Participants at-risk of falling will receive a fall monitor. All the telehealth devices will send data to nurses who are assigned to monitor the patients' health levels 24/7, and if any devices register a participant's health levels deviating from a healthy range, the nurse will be notified instantly and can contact the patient.

Once the program finishes, researchers will evaluate its cost-effectiveness based partly on the number of times patients are hospitalized, readmitted to long-term care facilities and admitted at an ED or urgent care clinic.

More articles on telehealth:
Texas hospitals team up on telehealth services for cardiology, dermatology patients
U of Louisville pilots telehealth program for burn wound patients
HHS awards $750K to Georgia hospital for telehealth

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