Temple University Hospital Launches Telehealth Care Management Platform

Temple University Hospital has launched a telehealth platform designed to improve care management for patients diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) - a chronic and irreversible lung disease.

The initiative comes following the Hospital's success with a previous telehealth-based disease management program - one which helps patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe easier. The Temple Lung Center at Temple University Hospital partnered with Philadelphia-based healthcare technology provider HGE Health to create a telehealth platform and mobile app to connect physicians with COPD patients - many of whom would have had to travel great distances across the country to utilize the pulmonary expertise at the Hospital.

The platform allows at-home patients to use their smartphones to report their daily vital signs to care providers, who can then adjust care directions based on each patient's health. The initiative helps patients with COPD experience much better outcomes, as physicians are able to make quick adjustments to treatment protocols to counteract changing symptoms in disease progression as they occur.

Now, Temple University Hospital and HGE Health are bringing this advanced care management technology to help patients suffering from IPF.

Improving Quality of Life for IPF Patients

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is experienced by roughly one in 200 American adults - mostly middle-aged men. There is no known cause or cure for the disease, which causes severe scaring throughout the lungs, affects the sufferer's ability to breathe, and limits nearly all activity as attacks of breathlessness can even occur while the patient is sitting. Without a lung transplant, most patients have approximately three-to-five years to live - though new treatments and therapies are emerging which can slow the spread of lung damage and help patients better manage their symptoms.

Temple University Hospital believes that remote patient monitoring could be particularly beneficial in improving treatment outcomes for IPF patients, as traveling long distances to meet with specialists becomes less and less of an option as the disease progresses.

"Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a debilitating, emotionally challenging disease that limits its sufferers from living a full life. IPF patients can experience worsening of their respiratory symptoms, especially breathlessness and cough," said CEO and Director at HGE Health, Michael J. Markus, Ph.D. "Our unmatched leadership in telemedicine-based programs in COPD is why we're so confident we can provide the same timely care for IPF patients. By providing adjustments to the treatment plan based on a change in symptoms, we have the opportunity to improve respiratory symptoms in patients with IPF and perhaps compliance with their IPF medications. A telemedicine-based disease management program for patients with IPF has the promise to improve their quality of life as well as clinical outcomes."

Bridging the Gap Between Patients and Physicians

The new program is initially being made available to Temple University Hospital's 3,500 to 4,500 patients with pulmonary interstitial lung diseases - many of whom are suffering specifically from IPF, and who have previously had to travel from far and wide to meet with their physicians.

With IPF, the quicker changes in symptoms are addressed, the less likely they are to become more complicated, resulting in better outcomes for the patient. Under the new telehealth program, pulmonary patients can use their smartphone to securely communicate with the HGE Health platform and report daily symptoms to their physician, who can then make immediate changes in treatment whenever necessary.

"We're excited about the possibilities our technology will offer to IPF patients," said Markus. "We recognize that they are highly vulnerable, more fragile and face a high rate of mortality as their disease progresses. However, if we can be the critical bridge between these patients and the transplant physicians taking care of them, we'll be able to give these men and women an entirely new lease on life."

Final Thoughts

Healthcare providers have been increasingly turning to telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs to improve care management and coordination for patients with chronic issues living at home. Some 56% of healthcare leaders surveyed for a recent report by Sage Growth Partners said that their facilities had already implemented a telehealth program, with 86% of those who had not stated that adoption was a medium to high priority.

As Temple University Hospital shows, utilizing telehealth technology enables providers to reduce the costs and stress involved for patients traveling to and from doctors' offices for regular check-ups, and improves health outcomes through near real-time monitoring and collaboration.

Temple University Hospital and HGE Health have also recently rolled out their telehealth platform and mobile app to help surgeons care for patients pre- and post-lung transplant. As a result, Temple has been able to scale its high-quality care to its rapidly growing pulmonary patient population, ensuring patients have daily interactions with their physicians no matter where they are.

"We're excited to see HGE Health's technological innovation continue to play a key role in the health and wellbeing of pulmonary patients," said President and CEO of Temple University Health System, Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS. "Along with our talented transplant team, HGE Health is one of the reasons the Temple Lung Center has become the busiest and best pulmonary program in the nation. They have made it easier for patients and physicians from not only across the U.S. but around the world to take advantage of our life-saving expertise."

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