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NJ pilot program helps head off problems, ER trips

Ethel McCracken, a 93-year-old Hackensack, NJ, resident avoided a trip to her doctor and maybe the hospital last week when a home monitoring system detected a weight gain, a sign of trouble for congestive heart failure patients. A transmitter about the size of a cellphone sent the reading to medical professionals at her insurance company, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, who immediately checked on the woman at her home. After talking with a nurse at Horizon, McCracken's son called her physician, who recommended more medication to eliminate fluids. McCracken is one of about 200 congestive heart failure patients enrolled in a pilot program sponsored by the state's largest insurer to monitor their condition in the hope of providing better treatment and preventing hospital visits.
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