Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Chickasha-Based Ross Health Care Offers Remote Home Health Monitoring

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Chickasha-Based Ross Health Care Offers Remote Home Health Monitoring

Article excerpt

Hank Ross expects employees of Ross Health Care to drive about 2.5 million miles this year.

Ross Health Care's 330 employees provide home health, private duty and hospice services in 30 Oklahoma counties, operating out of the company headquarters in Chickasha and offices in Norman, Enid and Anadarko.

"We are probably the most complete home health service in Oklahoma," said Ross, president and CEO. "We want to make it easier for people to access the health care system."

Ross Health Care's prescription for providing in-home health services includes a telehealth system. Using an in-home monitoring system - Health Buddy - a patient's vital signs including blood pressure, cardiovascular activity and blood sugars can be evaluated by Ross personnel without a visit to the home.

"We can clinically monitor patients remotely from their homes," Ross said. "We can get a medical readout and find out what is going on with them daily."

Using the home health monitoring systems often helps patients with severe chronic illnesses remain in their homes, which reduces overall health care costs, he said.

"In the old days, we had to send a nurse to the home to see 'Mrs. Jones' and check her vital signs," Ross said. "Now we can get a reading on Mrs. Jones from our office."

Health Buddy asks patients a series of questions about vital signs, systems and behaviors. Patients respond by pressing one of four buttons on the unit, which provides information, reinforcement and messages that can prompt patient actions.

Data from the home monitoring system is sent to a secure data center for evaluation by Ross nurses. The nurses evaluate the data and might, as needed, recommend preventive actions, a home visit or a trip to the personal doctor.

"We are trying to teach patients about their disease course so we can help them heal themselves at home and stay away from expensive alternatives," Ross said.

The system also provides information about vital signs for personal physicians. A doctor can go to a secure Web site and evaluate statistics for a patient over the past month.

The home monitoring device costs approximately $100 per month depending on the accessories needed for each patient's situation.

In some states, Medicare will pay for the home monitoring system but not Oklahoma, Ross said. …

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