Congestive Heart Failure Patients Receive Care Without Leaving Their Homes

(Newark, NJ, January 12, 2011) – What happens when high-quality medical care meets state-of-the art communications technology? Patients – even those with a serious chronic disease – can get the clinical attention they need right from their homes, when they need it, resulting in healthier outcomes and fewer visits to the hospital.

That’s what Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is seeking to achieve through a new pilot program for Congestive Heart Failure patients.  Using telemonitoring technology, medical professionals carefully observe and evaluate Horizon BCBSNJ patients remotely so they do not have to leave their homes.  

“Although congestive heart failure is a serious, chronic disease, its symptoms – such as shortness of breath and sudden weight gain – can be managed effectively, and often without a patient’s abrupt visit or re-admission to the hospital,” said Patricia Orchard, RN,  Director of Clinical Operations, Health Affairs, Horizon BCBSNJ.  “Under our pilot program, telemonitoring equipment, set up right in a patient’s home, detects warning signs to heart failure conditions, then sends an alert to the patient’s primary physician when warranted and a registered nurse from Horizon BCBSNJ.  With this early detection system in place, medical professionals can take immediate steps to intervene and prescribe the best setting and course of care for that patient,” Orchard said.

Telemonitoring is gaining wide acceptance among patients as an effective means of managing chronic diseases. A 2007 study by the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association found that home telemonitoring of chronic diseases “empowers patients, influences their attitudes and behaviors, and potentially improves their medical conditions.”

Facilitated by the Horizon BCBSNJ Clinical Operations Teams, the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Pilot targets 100 members who were determined to meet clinical criteria.  The three-month pilot began November 2010 and will be evaluated in February.

The primary diagnostic device used in the pilot is a scale, provided through Dayton, Ohio-based Valued Relationships, Inc. (VRI), which is tied to the in-home monitoring system and detects the weight gains symptomatic of congestive heart failure.

“This technology will promote better communication between patients and their physicians, reduce patients’ discomfort and anxiety by caring for them in their homes, and allow physicians and Horizon to assist patients better manage their own health,” Orchard added.

About Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, is a not-for-profit health services corporation.  Horizon BCBSNJ serves approximately 3.6 million members and is headquartered in Newark with offices in Wall, Mt. Laurel, and West Trenton.

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