Monday, February 02, 2009
Professional Home Care’s Heart at Home program
An estimated 5 million people in the United States—mostly older adults—have Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). As the U.S. population ages, that number is expected to climb. While medicine, transcatheter interventions, surgery and lifestyle changes may help alleviate symptoms, many CHF patients have a high rate of hospital readmissions.
The Heart at Home Program developed by Professional Home Care provides support and education in patient homes with the goal of increasing their knowledge of the signs and symptoms of CHF, thereby allowing early intervention to avoid hospital readmissions.
By further educating patients about their disease and monitoring their progress, the program facilitates earlier contact with physicians so patients will not be readmitted while experiencing advanced symptoms. The program’s ultimate goal is to increase the quality of life for CHF patients by extending physician care into patients’ homes.
The program, sustained by physician referrals, includes frequent home visits by a respiratory therapist. The patient is seen weekly for three or four weeks. Follow-up phone calls from the therapist are made once a month.
The one hour visits entail a basic assessment of the patient as requested by the referring physician, including auscultation of breath sounds, assessment of edema and pulse oximetry testing. Also, the therapist educates the patient on topics like weight monitoring, diet or medication and distributes information on the disease, its indications and causes, signs and symptoms, daily weight monitoring protocols, common medications, diet restrictions and low-sodium recipes.
The therapist acts as an adjunct to the physician’s recommendations and as the physician’s messenger in the home. Communication between physician and home therapist can occur as often as required by the referring physician.
Kristen Lewis, a family nurse practitioner at Cardiology Associates, says such home services make her patients more proactive in their care and gives them control over their disease. She said patients are generally very receptive to personal health care and education delivered in their home.