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Home Care Programs Launch Telehealth Technology Pilots

January 23, 2014

Several home care agencies and programs will conduct and evaluate pilot programs designed to improve care coordination through the use of telehealth technology.

In New York City, two organizations will train home care aides to use telehealth devices to record data for clients who are in danger of rehospitalization due to the presence of conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Home Assistance Personnel Inc. (HAPI), and Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), will each train selected workers to use the devices.

Workers from each organization will test different software programs designed to help home care aides document their clients’ health status on tablet computers and smartphones.

After six months, the programs will be evaluated to determine whether they improve clients’ health outcomes (for example, by reducing hospitalizations and/or primary care visits). Home care workers’ satisfaction with and acceptance of the programs will also be taken into consideration.

HAPI is affiliated with Jewish Home Lifecare, a nonprofit eldercare system, while CHCA, a worker-owned company, is affiliated with PHI and Independence Care System (ICS), a nonprofit that coordinates home-based care for elders and people with disabilities.

PHI received a grant from the United Hospital Fund to coordinate the project, which will be evaluated by Jewish Home Lifecare’s Research Institute on Aging.

Using Smartphones in Illinois

In Illinois, Addus HomeCare Corp., a national company that provides home and community-based services, will pilot a study on home care aides’ use of smartphones to transmit health data about their clients.

Addus will work with Aetna Better Health of Illinois, a Medicaid plan, and IlliniCare Health Plan, a managed-care corporation, to distribute the smartphones and evaluate their usefulness.

As home care aides help their clients perform activities of daily living, they will be able to send data about their clients’ health directly to their supervisors.

“Through the mobile device, we can really put the home care aide on the health care team,” Addus president and CEO Mark Heaney said in a press release. Changes to a client’s health status can be communicated “in real time, allowing for early identification and intervention by health plan case managers.”

All of the clients involved in the pilot program receive services through the state’s Integrated Care Program, which provides home care to older adults and adults with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicaid but not Medicare.

— by Matthew Ozga

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