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The technology, which costs around $150 for each device, plus a monthly $35 fee for the wireless service, helps close the loop for patients who are no longer in the hospital or being seen regularly by physicians. It complements the outreach program, allowing the care coordinator to enhance her volume, says Della Bella. "Instead of 80 patients, she can have 120 patients."

It also helps empower patients, which often leads to better results because they understand their care plan better. Part of Saddleback Memorial's outreach program is focused on teaching patients how to manage their illness, what the signs are, and what they should tell their physicians. Providers don't have the resources to babysit patients, says Della Bella. "The technology helps us cut loose a little bit and say, 'We won't be seeing you every day, but we will have your data coming in and can work on action plans that need to be taken.'" In addition, the patient has a record that can be printed, brought to the physician, and discussed. "It's key to help patients be more independent and make more knowledgeable decisions," says Della Bella.

As the technology becomes more sophisticated and providers become more knowledgeable in using the data to drive decisions, organizations can create better processes to minimize readmissions, says Butler. "More importantly, patients can get back to functional lifestyles that they can enjoy."

Carrie Vaughan

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