The Care Coordination Home Telehealth (CCHT) rural demonstration project: a symptom-based approach for serving older veterans in remote geographical settings

Marilyn Luptak, Nancy Dailey, Meghan Juretic, Randall Rupper, Robert D Hill, Bret L Hicken, Byron D Bair
Rural and Remote Health 2010, 10 (2): 1375

INTRODUCTION: Innovative healthcare delivery strategies are needed to address the healthcare needs of the 3.5 million older veterans living in US rural areas who face unique healthcare delivery challenges, including transportation barriers, poverty, and limited access to health professions and community-based programs. The care coordination home telehealth (CCHT) rural demonstration project was developed to address the mismatch between the timely identification of patient needs and the care delivered by the traditional disease-oriented institutionally-based healthcare delivery system for older rural veterans. The specific objectives were to: (1) serve as a facilitator of primary care; and (2) provide a portfolio of geriatric care management options to increase early detection of symptoms and to encourage adherence to care plans.

METHODS: Participants were recruited based on patterns of high outpatient, inpatient, and emergency care visits; 132 rural older veterans were enrolled. The CCHT applied care management principles to the delivery of healthcare services and used health informatics to facilitate access to evidence-based care. The CCHT's essential components, which were tailored to optimize remote access, included a face-to-face orientation, telephone contact with a designated care coordinator, and daily monitoring sessions using an in-home telehealth device to assess participants' medication usage, compliance, and symptoms, and to provide patient education.

RESULTS: One hundred eleven participants successfully installed and connected the telehealth monitoring device in their homes without hands-on assistance, monitored complex medical and psychiatric symptoms, and reported medication compliance remotely. Of the 93 participants who used the device for more than 10 sessions, 88 reported they did not have any difficulty using the device, 86 reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with the device, 73 reported they were likely to continue using the device, and 46 reported improved communication between themselves and their primary healthcare provider.

CONCLUSION: Initial utilization and satisfaction evaluation data from this project supports the feasibility of employing a CCHT approach to serve medically-complicated older veterans in rural settings. This approach could also serve as a template for addressing a greater range of healthcare needs among other populations in hard-to-reach settings.

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