Doctors turn to technology to monitor ill seniors

DOWNEY - Bettie Lowden, 82, is no stranger to the doctor's office, but she hardly needs to go there much anymore, thanks to technology that allows her doctors to remotely monitor her condition every day while she is at home.Lowden is considered a high risk for serious health issues. She was diagnosed with hypertension at age 16, has suffered four heart attacks and four strokes. She has battled with diabetes for the last 50 years and endures chronic emphysema and bronchitis. But Lowden is anything but melancholy about her situation, quite opposite in fact: she is facing her conditions as mere inconveniences with the help of her new wireless technology. "I have a lot of battles to face, but with the [body manager] and the other devices I've been given by my doctors at CareMore, it makes my health conditions much easier to manage knowing my doctor is watching my vital signs even though I'm at home and he is in his office," Lowden said. Every morning Lowden wakes up and steps on her "body manager" device, which automatically stores and sends her weight information wirelessly to her doctor at CareMore. Her doctor monitors her weight to determine if she is gaining pounds overnight due to fluid build-up, a dangerous sign that needs immediate attention and could land her in the hospital. She then puts on her "BP manager" cuff device which measures her blood pressure and heart rate and automatically sends the data to the same healthcare team via her telephone line. CareMore doctors gave Lowden the devices to help keep close tabs on her condition without having her come into the office. She does not drive. "If her blood pressure is high, it automatically alarms us and then we take immediate action," said Reginald Casilang, a nurse practitioner at CareMore who oversees the remote monitoring program. "Same goes true with her weight gain. We will get an alarm on our system if her weight is increasing, which we know is due to her retaining water which could put her health more at risk. We then take immediate action." Made by Idea Life, Inc. of Toronto, the wireless health monitoring devices represent a breakthrough approach to monitoring high risk elderly patients who don't have access to transportation (such as in Lowden's case) to see their doctor.

********** Published: September 25, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 23