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UPMC Heart Failure Experts Work to Further Integrate Remote Monitoring Technology into Patient Care

July 9, 2021

Patients at the UPMC Advanced Heart Failure Center have access to innovative remote monitoring technology that allows them to monitor their health more closely, efficiently, and cost effectively. Led by Eric Dueweke, MD, a UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute cardiologist, UPMC’s Connected Care is a remote monitoring program that addresses hospital readmissions and empowers patients to take control of their heart care at home. 

Connected Care for heart failure patients builds upon UPMC’s legacy of innovating health care technology. When the program first began in 2016, patients were provided a kit to obtain and record their own vitals. As smart technology has evolved, patients now input their vitals using the Vivify Health® platform on their own smart devices. 

Patient vitals are monitored daily by a team of nurses employed by UPMC Innovative Homecare Solutions. If a patient’s vitals are stable, the health care team knows that no interventions are needed. But if a patient records a high blood pressure reading, for example, nurses can reach out for more information and determine if additional care is needed. 

“The whole idea was finding the signs that things were going in the wrong direction before the patient landed in the emergency department, because once they’re in the emergency department, we’re already too late and we’re playing catch up at that point,” Dr. Dueweke said.  

Remote Monitoring Technology Addresses Hospital Readmission Rates and Increases Patient Satisfaction

By 2018, the remote monitoring program had already shown potential in reducing hospital readmission rates for heart failure patients. As part of the program’s expansion, UPMC cardiology experts like Dr. Dueweke began integrating patients’ own smart devices into the process. The results have been encouraging – aside from addressing hospital readmission rates, patient satisfaction was over 90% out of more than 1,500 individuals. 

“Our early data is showing that patients come out the end of remote monitoring feeling like they have a better understanding of their disease, that they have a better understanding of how to take care of their disease themselves – there’s a sense of empowerment that comes out of that,” Dr. Dueweke said. “That came out of some of our earliest trials when we were still working out a lot of the kinks to the program.”

Now, Dr. Dueweke and other UPMC cardiology experts are looking to expand access to Connected Care and the program’s technology by incorporating it into advanced heart failure clinics and the day-to-day operations of heart failure cardiologists. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the interest and need to provide expert care to patients at their home rather than a clinic or hospital, and to broaden the patient population that receives access to the technology.  

“That’s been a strong motivator to build our video visit technologies, to provide useful software for reaching out to patients that maybe don’t have access to telemedicine,” Dr. Dueweke said. 

On a broad scale, Dr. Dueweke knows that improving remote monitoring technology is a matter of providing communities with equitable and high-quality health care, and overall, is a matter of empowering patients with the tools and knowledge to better manage their health. UPMC heart failure experts are intertwining this technological initiative with their mission of providing innovative, personalized treatments to all patients.  

“We are making sure that telemedicine isn’t just an adjunct to our electronic medical record, but that it is an integral part of our e-record,” Dr. Dueweke said. “We want to make sure that we are designing our workflows to include telemedicine, and that we are giving patients a range of telemedicine options, not just one size fits all video visits.” 

About UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.