Telehomecare: Much more than just remote monitoring

In one week, you’ve gained six pounds, developed a dry cough, and feel unusually tired and short of breath. What can you do? Margaret, a 71-year-old living with heart failure wondered the same.

Thankfully, Margaret is in the Telehomecare program – a six-month health coaching and remote monitoring program which puts easy-to-use equipment in the homes of persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure.

Telehomecare nurse Andrea Portelance at the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), alerted by Margaret’s remote readings, contacted her and suggested she call her doctor immediately. Margaret was nervous. She was reluctant to call, downplaying her escalating symptoms. Portelance insisted.

When Margaret was assessed the next day, her medication was changed, and she was told that if she had waited any longer, she could have been admitted to the hospital. Within a few days of following the Telehomecare Stoplight Action Plan and complying with her new prescription, she was feeling well enough to go for a walk with her sister. She told Portelance she didn’t realize how sick she was.

The Stoplight Action Plan is one element of Telehomecare where clients weigh themselves and check their blood pressure and pulse daily, as well as answer simple questions about how they are feeling. Readings are monitored remotely by Telehomecare nurses or respiratory technologists who also provide coaching.

Telehomecare is so much more than remote monitoring, Portelance adds. “It’s as much about teaching clients to self-manage, to follow their action plan, and to know when to call their doctor.”