Imagine waking up every morning, taking your blood pressure and having the information transmitted right to your doctor’s office. The physician notices your blood pressure has been high several days in a row and calls you with a medication change that gets it under control. This kind of medicine will soon be happening in Northwest Arkansas.
Today’s health care challenges call for creative problem solving and that’s just what Mercy’s Center for Innovative Care (CIC) is charged with doing. One of the pilot projects of the CIC is the “patient-centered medical home”. It’s an approach to providing comprehensive care that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their personal health care providers. Mercy of Northwest Arkansas is pleased to have Dr. Mark Lee at the Mercy Clinic in Bella Vista as a medical home provider.
“The medical home is the new care model embraced by Mercy as the way health care will be delivered in the future. As baby boomers get older and develop more and more health care needs and as increasing numbers of people get health coverage over the next few years, the nation’s shortage of physicians is going to be exposed,” says Dr. Tim Smith, VP of Mercy Research, “The patient centered medical home takes advantage of a team based approach to care, improved access to care, and full implementation of technology related solutions to health care problems to rise to the challenges we face over the coming months to years.”
Thanks to a $43,078 grant from Walmart, the Mercy CIC will be able to purchase home monitoring devices to conduct a patient centered project at the medical home site in Northwest Arkansas. The project will tackle some of the most common patient problems. Of the 114,000 Mercy patients in Northwest Arkansas, more than 23% of these individuals over the age of 55 have such chronic health conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems. A prevalence that is higher than the national average. These diagnoses all require repeated monitoring and numerous visits to the doctor’s office.
Under the leadership of Dr. Lee and thanks to the grant money from Walmart, Mercy will be assigning technology devices to certain patients that can be used at home to monitor various health conditions. The devices will give the doctor’s office the capability to monitor things like a patient’s blood sugar, blood pressure, body weight, blood oxygen saturation and asthma or emphysema control. These home health devices will then transmit results directly to a patient’s electronic health record for monitoring and medical follow-up.
“We are thankful to Walmart for partnering with us on this unique project,” says Dr. Lee, “These personal home monitoring devices will enable us to improve patient touch, making it easier to reach out to the patients and get more accurate information regarding their health management. We feel this will be a huge improvement in health care quality and possibly a good way to help control the increasing costs of health care.”
This project represents another important step in Mercy’s medical home initiative by providing patients with innovative care and creative applications of information technology to deliver superior healthcare.