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Home monitoring equiptment aims to cut down on hospital visits

By Michelle Poirier [1]

BELLEVILLE – Local residents with chronic illnesses may soon be able to check their own vital signs at home and, if needed, be connected to a paramedic.

Remote Patient Monitoring [2] connects patients to health services through technology. The aim is to allow people with chronic illnesses to have less disruption in their daily lives, according to Health Canada Infoway [3].

John O’Donnell, chief of the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services, said his organization hopes to get the program started in the Quinte region soon. It has to be approved by Hastings County council, with the vote slated to take place at the end of this month.

The program selects individuals who have had up to two 911 calls in the last year or at least one hospital visit, or who are suffering chronic illnesses like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. Those chosen are then trained on how and when to use the monitoring equipment.

“It’s equipment that’s put into the people’s houses and it allows them to take their own vital signs – so the blood pressure, their weight, their pulse oximetry and their blood sugars,” said O’Donnell. “Through use of the Internet or phone lines the information gathered from these vital-signs monitors gets sent to paramedics who can kind of keep an eye on them.”

The equipment is tailored to the needs of each person who uses it. For example, if someone was suffering from high blood pressure and the machine sensed their blood pressure was too high or low, a paramedic would be alerted and would check in on the patient and determine if further care is necessary, O’Donnell explained.

“Somebody’s keeping an eye on these people so that they don’t get too sick and have to make a 911 call or an emergency visit,” he said.

Using the machine also leads to people paying attention to their own health, he said.

“They’re finding in some of the other areas that are already doing it that people are becoming very conscious of what causes their blood pressure to go up or what causes their blood sugar to rise. It’s just another way of preventative medicine trying to keep people healthier in their homes longer.”

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