New wearable technology is helping some Baptist Health Madisonville patients stay healthier – and comfortably at home

June 22, 2020

This virtual care keeps patients out of the hospital, yet under 24-hour observation.

(Madisonville, KY) June 22, 2020 -- This virtual care keeps patients out of the hospital, yet under 24-hour observation.

“Healthcare is moving beyond the walls of the hospital,” said Brett Oliver, MD, Baptist Health’s chief medical information officer. “There are many instances where the patient would be better served, safer and more comfortable at home. The problem has been making sure they are doing OK. Remote patient monitoring, particularly when continuous, can provide this level of care.”

A device, worn except when showering, automatically takes and transmits the patient’s vital signs -- temperature, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen saturation level  –  to Current Health.  The device’s machine-learning technology establishes a baseline reading for each patient, which helps in spotting unwelcome changes in their medical condition, raising an alarm so appropriate action can be taken.

“These alerts enable intervention sooner which can have a dramatic impact on patient outcomes,” Dr. Oliver added. “We have already seen instances where symptoms were not detected by the patient or family members. However, because of continuous monitoring, we were able to see a significant change and intervene.”

This device is being used for Baptist Health Home Care Madisonville, according to Belinda Hill, director.

Dr. Oliver said the telemonitoring system recently saved the life of a Western Kentucky woman with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The system detected that the woman’s oxygen level had dropped, her breathing more rapid and vital signs unstable, ultimately sending her to Baptist Health Paducah’s ICU by ambulance. Today, she is back home.

“A traditional cardiac telehealth system would not have given us the info that we needed” to detect this patient’s deteriorating condition, said Tammy Sullivan, Home Care director in Paducah.

The rapid shifts in condition common to COVID-19 patients made this telemonitoring system a good fit for 20 patients with milder symptoms, Dr. Oliver said. This kept them safely at home, while reducing the spread of the virus.

Staying at home is also important for patients with chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure (CHF) and COPD, who may be exhausted by traveling for medical appointments. “Our patients are happy to have this technology,” said Paul Crockett, Baptist Health’s vice president for Home Care. “It not only provides added assurance with continuous monitoring, but reduces the need for face-to-face encounters.” Each patient also has a tablet to use for video visits with their care team.

The system should also cut down on costly Emergency Room visits and reduce hospital admissions. “We could safely send home congestive heart failure patients who would normally be admitted to the hospital,” he said. “This is the future – less bricks and mortar and more technology.”

“This is a game changer,” Crockett said. “In this age of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, this technology will play a big role in the ‘new normal’ for practicing medicine both during and post-pandemic.”


Just the facts

Total number of units: 148

Available markets: Metro Louisville, Lexington, Richmond, Madisonville, Paducah

Patients served to date: 30