Lee Health enhances virtual care programme

  • August 3, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Lee Health, one of the largest not-for-profit public health systems in Florida, has announced an enhanced virtual health programme to support at-home patient care.

It has partnered with New Jersey-based Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) to expand its virtual care services. The partnership aims to decrease hospital readmissions and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits.

The virtual health programme initially targets patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension (HTN) and post cardio-thoracic surgery patients with plans to expand to other chronic care and high-risk patient populations by the end of the year.

“Remote patient monitoring allows us to care for patients in the most appropriate care setting based on their personal needs and where they are most comfortable – at home,” said Zsolt Kulcsar, medical director of Lee Virtual Health. “It allows us to virtually track their health in real time and intervene when needed to prevent worsening health conditions. Digital health is transforming the way we provide medical care and is giving patients more options in seeking the right care, in the right place and at the right time.”

Telehealth patients are identified for the programme by their primary care and specialty providers during office visits or prior to hospital discharge. Patients are introduced to the virtual health technology in the physician’s office or prior to discharge and are sent a telehealth kit directly to their homes within 48 hours.

Once patients receive their telehealth kit, complete with a 4G tablet and biometric monitoring devices, an HRS engagement specialist calls the patients and reviews the virtual care technology once more and helps the patient record their first vital signs. Once the technology is set up, patients begin working with a dedicated registered nurse in the virtual health department for education of their condition and monitoring of their vital signs. Through this additional education, Lee Health aims to increase patients’ comfort level with the technology and their long-term engagement.

Lee Health clinicians monitor patients daily, responding to risk alerts based on reported vitals and symptoms. To evaluate patients and address concerns quickly, Lee Health nurses can contact patients directly through the tablet via text messaging, phone call or virtual visit.

“By leveraging remote patient monitoring to deliver a comprehensive suite of services, Lee Health will be able to ensure their patients incur a significantly reduced volume of avoidable ED visits and unnecessary admissions and readmissions,” said Florence Kariuki, chief clinical officer at HRS. “In addition, Lee Health’s virtual health programme will make a significant impact on a variety of social determinants of health and barriers to care.”

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Lee Health clinicians offered virtual visits to patients undergoing home isolation. The Lee Health telehealth programme is continuing to leverage virtual visits to expand access to care, evaluate patients experiencing exacerbations, and augment in-person visits when appropriate.

In the coming months, Lee Health looks to expand its virtual health services further to patients with pre-eclampsia, wound care and nephrology as part of its commitment to implementing innovative programmes that deliver care to patients at home.

Since the opening of its first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care specialist in south-west Florida. A non-profit, integrated health care services organisation, it is focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Services are located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centres, walk-in medical centres, primary care and specialty physician practices, and other services across the continuum of care.

HRS telehealth and remote patient monitoring technology empowers providers and payers to deliver care to patients across the continuum, reducing readmissions, optimising clinician workflow and improving patient satisfaction. HRS’s disease-specific telehealth is customised with educational videos, care plans and medication reminders while also integrated with Bluetooth peripherals to engage patients in their self-management.