The Martini Hospital starts, in collaboration with Luscii (previously ‘FocusCura’), two innovative projects to monitor patients with a chronic disease remotely and thereby prevent hospitalisation. Patients with COPD or heart failure receive a tablet at home, on which they transmit medical information about their condition to the hospital on a daily or weekly basis. If a patient exceeds their specific threshold value, the hospital will contact the patient via video calling. For example, medication can be adjusted at an early stage to ultimately prevent hospitalisation. In addition, it increases the degree of self-management, the feeling of safety and the quality of life of patients.
Hans Feenstra, the Martini Hospital’s chairman of the board: “These projects are a good example of ‘The right care in the right place’. We believe that, in principle, care should be organised as close to the patient as possible and we are therefore actively engaged in this”.
Patients who are already being treated by the hospital can participate in these projects. It is not the aim to relocate care to the general practitioner (substitution). This effective care is not only adding value for patients, it also reduces the costs of healthcare. Emergency admissions can be prevented and fewer outpatient visits are necessary. Feenstra: “The projects give substance to the long-term agreements that we have with healthcare insurers Menzis and Zilveren Kruis. We have committed to develop initiatives for care close to the patient.” Both projects start with a small group of patients in order to gain experience with this new way of working. Also, in collaboration with Luscii, scientific research into the results of telemonitoring is being conducted.
Prevent an exacerbation
COPD is a lung disease in which the lungs are damaged. The lungs fail to provide adequate breathing and the patient has less energy. COPD is characterised by lung attacks, in which the patient experiences more stuffiness, coughing and production of mucus, which often results in hospitalisation. We want to prevent these exacerbations by means of more frequent monitoring. Patients suffering from severe COPD fill in a validated questionnaire every week, containing questions about how the patient feels. A specialised nurse monitors the outcomes in the hospital. If these outcomes exceed certain threshold values, the nurse will contact the patient via a video consult. This way she can literally see how the patient is doing and can, for example, adjust the medication. This may possibly prevent an exacerbation. For patients with COPD, the trip to the hospital is very exhausting, as it often requires a great physical effort. Therefore this type of remote care is very suitable for them.
Titration of medication
Heart failure is a condition in which the pumping function of the heart decreases slowly or abruptly. As a result, patients get tired faster, develop fluid retention and experience shortness of breath in daily activities. Patients with heart failure transmit measurements of their weight, blood pressure and heart rate to the hospital daily, using the iPad. Therefore, these patients do not only receive an iPad, but also a weighing scale and a blood pressure meter at their disposal. Telemonitoring for heart failure is highly suitable for patients who have just been diagnosed with heart failure and for patients who are in an unstable phase of their condition. In both groups, the medication must be properly set or reset. And where that normally happens over a period of eight weeks through a series of visits to the outpatient clinic, it is expected that this can now be done in just a few visits and in just a few weeks. Adjusting the medication and explaining the condition and lifestyle will now take place via video contact, so that the patient does not have to visit the hospital. It is also expected that emergency admissions will be prevented. In addition, the patient is actively involved in his or her care process through this form of telemonitoring. Research shows that more control and self-management increases the patient’s quality of life.
The role of Luscii in the Martine Hospital:
Luscii provides hardware, software and patient support for the Martini Hospital. Luscii also helps the Hospital to implement Luscii the right way and to create the business case for insurers. Furthermore, when a patient is enrolled in telemonitoring, he/she will receive the Luscii Vitals and Luscii Contact apps to send in their measurements and have (video)-communication with the nurses or doctors. Also, after enrolment, Luscii is responsible for all logistics (sending the measurement devices), service and (installation) support for patients within the region of the Martini Hospital (Groningen). The PhD of Luscii (Martine Breteler) will be helping with the validation research.
This article was published in Dutch on the website of Martini Hospital in July 2018.