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Beacon will launch remote patient monitoring pilot program

Beginning soon, Beacon Health System will have a new way to continue to care for some patients once they are discharged from the hospital. Together with Boston-based Biofourmis, patients at Elkhart General and Memorial hospitals with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who meet certain criteria will be offered at-home monitoring equipment.

“The devices will enable us to remotely monitor patients’ conditions, respond to symptoms, assist with medications and even conduct telehealth visits,” said John Bruinsma, Beacon’s Manager of Care Coordination. “Together, these tools will help us ensure these patients transition to home safely following their hospitalizations.”

COPD and CHF patients enrolled in this pilot program must have a Beacon Medical Group primary care physician and will go home from the hospital with a monitoring kit to use for about 30 days. The kit includes a cuff to measure blood pressure and heart rate, a scale, a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen saturation and a phone that transmits all the device readings by Bluetooth connection into a patient management dashboard for monitoring. Some patients with more complex needs will receive a continuous monitoring kit with an armband that streams their vitals in real time.

“With the Biofourmis technology, our CHF and COPD patients can be discharged home safely and be monitored more closely to prevent the need for readmission,” said Sam El-Dalati, MD, Beacon Chief Clinical Officer. “Using a combination of biosensor monitoring and self-management prompts, we can effectively watch for changes in our patients’ conditions and build their confidence and skills to effectively self-manage their conditions, avoiding costly emergency department visits or rehospitalization. We are thrilled to have these innovative tools as we strive to deliver outstanding care, inspire health and connect with heart.”

Bruinsma and Kate Newbold, PhD, Beacon’s Director of Digital Design and Customer Experience, applied to the Federal Communications Commission in early 2021 to secure CARES Act funding toward the pilot launch of the program. The funds, part of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program: Round 2, will cover the cost of the equipment and data needed to enable the program for up to 600 patients during the first year of the program, after which Beacon has made provisions to continue the program with possible expansions to other groups of appropriate patients. The goal of the CARES Act funding is to support telehealth options to keep vulnerable patients at home and avoid the spread of COVID-19, including individuals in urban and rural regions who may have challenges accessing care.

Biofourmis is a global leader of advanced biosensor technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide personalized, predictive care. Beacon physicians and teams from care coordination, population health, information systems, health information management and finance have worked closely with Biofourmis over the last several months to plan, develop and launch the program.

If the pilot program proves successful, Beacon plans to formally roll out the program to more patients.

“Beacon strives to be an excellent steward of our community’s resources, providing exceptional value to the patients we serve,” said Diane Maas, Beacon’s Chief Strategy & Digital Growth Officer. “The Biofourmis solution supports dual purposes of engaging and empowering patients in their own care journeys and fulfilling our commitment to improving healthcare quality while reducing healthcare costs.”