Telemedicine allows doctors to get regular vital signs from patients

Elderly and chronically ill patients are turning to telehealth home-monitoring services to reduce office and hospital visits, curb costs and possibly lead to better patient outcomes.

Telehealth home-monitoring services prompt and assist patients in checking their vital signs and to answer medical questions on a regular basis. The results are subsequently relayed to a doctor or medical professional in email form. According to the telemedicine association about 200,000 Americans are using these services from about 200 dedicated telemedicine networks that involve almost 3,500 medical and healthcare institutions.

A senior policy fellow at the American Nursing Association in the department of nursing practice and policy, Carol J. Bickford said:

"It's getting a lot of attention now in mainstream health care to help cut down on costs. It's been very successful when it's done well in reducing the hospitalization of patients, because you can reach something early."

The electronic-boxes can be run off of cellular technology, and will alert nurses or doctors if the patient fails to check their vitals. They also allow medical professionals to monitor the patient more closely if there is an abnormality in the results or other cause for concern.

Bickford explains the medical benefits of telehealth home-monitoring services:

"We're trying to keep them out of the hospital by keeping them healthier. It's an extra set of eyes and ears in the house. We know if something’s going wrong... The technology is becoming much more comfortable to them. We’ve got to make sure [the patient is] part of the solution."

Long-distance health care (STLtoday)

What is telemedicine and telehealth? (American Telehealth Association)