TEC4Home: Telehealth for emergency-community continuity of care connectivity via home monitoring

Patients with long term medical conditions like heart failure or chronic lung diseases typically get admitted to and discharged from hospitals frequently because their conditions fluctuate. For example, one out of four patients older than 65 with heart failure often needs to return to hospital within one month of a previous emergency room or hospital stay. Today, using electronic monitors, patients can measure their own blood pressure, weight, and blood oxygen from home, and send their measurements to doctors or nurses so they can supervise the patient's state of health. We are testing this home health monitoring approach to see if it can help patients with heart failure or chronic lung diseases stay healthy and safe at home.

In our research program called TEC4Home, we hope to show that home monitoring: 1) helps patients to manage their illnesses better themselves because they know their own bodies best, and 2) allows nurses and doctors to follow patients closely without needing to visit them. We expect to show that these patients will stay well and not need to revisit emergency departments, thereby helping hospitals to save money or save the beds for sicker patients.

We will first invite 90 patients with heart failure from Vancouver General and St. Paul's Hospitals to test the home monitoring approach after they go home. Findings will allow us to make improvements before we expand to enroll 900 patients in 30 hospitals in BC in a formal clinical study.

Provided TEC4Home is found to help patients and decrease hospital costs, we will expand this service to be offered to other patients with heart failure across BC. We will invite companies that make monitoring equipment to develop newer and better versions, and use our experimental approach to test these devices to ensure they are safe and useful. We will also test TEC4Home with patients with chronic lung diseases to expand TEC4Home to serve patients with more than one type of long term disease.

We will work closely with doctors, nurses, patients and families, hospital managers, government leaders, technology companies, and health researchers. Patients will not only test the approach, but will also be involved in planning and carrying out the research. We will share findings with governments and health organizations so that home health monitoring, if proven effective, will become a routine part of treating patients. We will present at medical conferences and publish to share learnings beyond BC.