High Tech for a Healing Touch
Central Coast VNA & Hospice turns to technology for more efficient home health care.
Under the direction of VNA President Carol Snow, Central Coast VNA & Hospice provides more than 75,000 home health care visits each year. To further their mission, the agency has recently launched a program called “High Tech, Healing Touch.”
This program helps nurses to monitor their patients via innovative voice and video technology, which uses regular telephone lines between the nurse in her office and the patient at home. The program also allows the nurses to carry small laptops into the homes, instead of lugging thick, heavy, patient field charts all day long.
“Tele-homecare” consists of placing a lightweight unit, attached to a regular phone line, in the patient’s home. Two types of units are available, one transmits data through the phone line and the other has visual capabilities. “It serves as a supplement to our actual home visits,” said Kathleen Griffon, director of VNA Telehomecare. “We expect it to improve early detection and intervention for our chronically ill, home-based patients.”
The visual tele-homecare system, allows nurses to view wounds, dressings and IV pump sites from the office. The non-visual units measure vital statistics such as heart rate, blood pressure, weight, and temperature. Data is collected on a unit in the patient’s home and sent via satellite into the VNA office.
Central Coast VNA has also purchased a new agency-wide software package, Patient Care Technologies, which includes a home care data management package and ties patient data into billing, accounting, human relations and other departments instead of stand-alone systems. They have also replaced its 12-year old mainframe with new servers.
The new point-of-care devices, like small laptops, now enable nurses to download an entire day’s charts into the hand-held device, over ordinary telephone lines to and from the VNA main database. History of all clinical, financial, and administrative information is available as care is delivered. New data can be recorded as work is done.
Telehealth may be more efficient than older care practices, but it doesn’t come without a hefty price tag. “As we all know, none of this equipment is inexpensive,” said Carol Snow, president of Central Coast VNA & Hospice. “Our expenses for this project will run well over $1 million. We are a nonprofit agency, providing a great deal of care to those who could not afford it otherwise. Therefore, we are going to need a large amount of contributed funds to complete this vital move.”
The Central Coast VNA & Hospice, established in 1951, is the largest and oldest home health care agency in Monterey and San Benito counties, California.
Every month, we will shine the spotlight on a member VNA, and tell you about an innovative program they run. Do you have a story you would like to see in the VNAA “Agency Spotlight”? If so send your suggestions to [email protected].