The Doctor Is In ... Your Living Room!

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A new trend is taking telemedicine one step beyond- putting technology directly in the hands often elderly patients. (KFSN)

Richard Kaiser lives in a rural area, more than an hour away from his cardiologist.

"You know you could be sitting there healthy as a bear, with heart trouble, and five minutes later have a heart attack," said patient Richard Kaiser.

Two heart attacks, a stroke, and two surgeries require Kaiser's doctors to keep a close eye on his health. But the 83-year-old does not like to leave home, or his wife Betty, as she fights cancer.

It's one reason Kaiser is taking part in a study assessing the health benefits of home monitoring. He was shipped a tablet ...

A Bluetooth connected scale, and other wireless devices to measure his oxygen levels and blood pressure.

"Did you improve throughout the day, then?"

In real-time, a nurse based on a call center checks for changes--weight gain or increased blood pressure might signal a red flag.

"The program really does help the patient to understand how to take care of themselves in the comfort of their home, independently," said RN/UPMC Remote Monitoring Nurse Linda Somma.

Doctor Andrew Watson is president-elect of the American Telemedicine Association.

"We always thought the older patients wouldn't adopt it, but we're actually seeing age bias," said Watson.

Elderly patients tell Watson they like that the technology gives them better access to experts. Richard Kaiser had one hospitalization and two emergency visits in the six months before he started the monitoring--since then, zero.

"You don't have to be chasing to the doctor because the nurses are monitoring it every day," said Kaiser.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Wendy Zellner

zellnerwl@upmc.edu

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