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Disease Management Wins Drive Essentia Toward ACO

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, June 9, 2011

When the hospital initiated its program using the telemonitoring scale, and consistent follow-up care of patients, some physicians were concerned that they were going to be caught up in the details of follow-up care that would interfere with all their other work.

"If you are dealing with all these patients, we are going to get all these calls,''' Wick recalls physicians telling the nursing staff.

Hospital officials also were concerned about an anticipated overflow of the emergency department patients, especially among those who have had debilitating cardiac conditions, and whether the telemonitoring scale system would actually make them more nervous. She acknowledged that the telemonitoring scale system, generally, across the nation, has had mixed results. For Essentia, however, it's working, Wick says.

The hospital system's disease management process has put a lid on calls of anxiety from patients and visits to the Emergency Department, Wick says. "The 'calls' aren't there, because they are well managed," she says of the patients. "They are well managed and they don't call," she says. "The onus is on us to partner with our patient. How we manage this so it's not a crisis, it's about preventing a crisis.

About 200 of 1,200 patients in the healthcare system's cardiac program are involved in the telemonitoring scale program, she says. The hospital ensured only those who really need the extra support of the scale would be part of that process, she says. Indeed, the hospital receives no reimbursement for the scale, which is estimated to be part of an overall $10,000 telemonitoring cost for each patient, she says.

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