The Doctor Is In … Your Living Room!


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — For the past decade, hospitals have used technology to connect doctors in major medical centers with patients at remote, rural offices. Now, a new trend is taking telemedicine one step beyond- putting technology directly in the hands of house-bound, often elderly patients.

Richard Kaiser lives in rural Pennsylvania, more than an hour away from his cardiologist.

Kaiser told Ivanhoe, “You know you could be sitting there healthy as a bear, with heart trouble, and five minutes later have a heart attack.”

Two heart attacks, a stroke and two surgeries require Richard’s doctors to keep a close eye on his health. But this 83-year-old doesn’t like to leave home, or his wife Betty as she fights cancer. It’s one reason Richard is taking part in a study assessing the health benefits of home monitoring. He was shipped a tablet, a Bluetooth connected scale, and other wireless devices to measure his oxygen levels and blood pressure. In real-time, a nurse based in a call center checks for changes. Weight gain or increased blood pressure might signal a red flag.

Linda Somma, RN, a UPMC Remote Monitoring Nurse said, “The program really does help the patient to understand how to take care of themselves in the comfort of their home, independently.”

“We always thought the older patients wouldn’t adopt it, but we’re actually seeing age bias,” Andrew  R. Watson, MD, MLitt, FACS, Physician, Division of Colorectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, Vice President, Clinical Information Technology Transformation, International Division, Medical Director, Telemedicine, President Elect, American Telemedicine Association told Ivanhoe. (Read Full Interview)

Elderly patients tell Watson they like that the technology gives them better access to experts. Richard Kaiser had one hospitalization and two emergency visits in the six months before he started the monitoring … since then, zero.

“You don’t have to be chasing to the doctor cause the nurses are monitoring it every day,” Kaiser stated.

More than 1,100 patients with congestive heart failure have been part of the 90-day monitoring program. The hospital says 92 percent of the patients who enrolled are complying; and hospitalizations and ER visits are down. The call center nurses are also using the remote monitoring to find patients who are in need of medical assistance and dispatch a visiting nurse to the home.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4327

BACKGROUND: Telemedicine began in the 1950’s when hospitals and university attempted to use telephones to share information and images. Telemedicine was used to connect doctors and patients that were at different locations and has been especially useful for rural or hard to reach populations where the specialist isn’t available. In the past, the ability to do remote visits was expensive and complicated, so although it continued to grow, it was still limited in scope. One of the first successes in telemedicine was when two health centers in Pennsylvania were able to send radiologic images over the phone. However, the rise of the internet age and smart devices capable of high-quality video transmission opened up the possibility of delivering remote health to patients in their home. Now doctors can use Telemedicine for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and a range of other clinical services.


SELF-DIAGNOSE: A nationwide survey was conducted with 3,014 adults living in the U.S. over both landlines and cell phones and found that 35 percent of U.S adults have gone online to self-diagnose a medical condition. The survey discovered that 82 percent of people in the study used search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, 13 percent went straight to a website that was health-related such as WebMD, two percent used Wikipedia, and one percent used Facebook and other social media for medical information. Regarding demographics, women, young adults, and people who made over $75,000 were more likely to search the internet for their health conditions. Moreover, the results illustrate that although people are using technology to self-diagnose, the majority of people – 46 percent – said that what they found online led to believe they needed help from a medical professional.


STUDY: A study was conducted evaluating telemedicine intervention in chronic disease management in the elderly population. During the study, 11-hundred patients received care and were monitored by their healthcare providers remotely with the use of a tablet, Bluetooth connected scales, and other wireless devices. There is evidence from the study that suggests that telemedicine was able to reduce unplanned hospital and emergency room visits. Moreover, the study suggests that seniors had 94% engagement rate and that 96% would recommend telemedicine to a family or friend.

(Sources: Andrew R. Watson, MD, MLitt, FACS


Wendy Zellner

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

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