Prescott, Ark – Thanks to a $495,926 USDA telemedicine grant, Mercy will be able to provide 900 people in some of the nation’s most hard-to-reach rural areas medical care like they’ve never known before.
Through the three-year tele-home project, Mercy – a network of hospitals and physician offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma – will target patients with the most chronic ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease. The grant monies will fund monitoring devices so patients can electronically transmit results from home via computer or telephone line directly to their physician.
“I recently had a patient come in with a blood sugar level way above normal and I couldn’t figure out why it was so high because she was taking two oral medications and insulin to control her diabetes,” said April Revis, APN, a family nurse practitioner at Mercy’s Scott County Rural Health Clinic in Waldron, Ark., over 45 miles from the closest urban area. “After talking to her, I discovered it had become difficult for her to see well enough to draw up her insulin so she stopped taking it. If we had been using tele-home monitoring and tracking her blood sugar rising, we would have been able to get her help long before there was a problem.”
St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs, St. Edward Mercy Health Center in Fort Smith and Mercy Medical Center in Rogers are a part of Mercy.
Extensive research shows behaviors change when someone is paying attention to them. Just tracking hypertensive patients nationwide with remote blood pressure monitors could potentially save $100 billion a year in unnecessary health care costs.
“In addition to traditional care, Mercy is providing a new version of the house call for the digital age. Because of our integrated electronic health record, we can track patient care across four states 24/7 whether you are in a hospital, clinic, ER and now from your home with monitoring devices,” said Tim Smith, MD, vice president of research for Mercy’s Center for Innovative Care. “By regularly tracking glucose levels, blood pressure, oxygen levels and more, our patients reap the benefits.”
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