$10 million telehealth grant awarded to med center

by Taylor Wilson, The Nebraska Medical Center | July 16, 2014

Image with caption: Telehealth coordinator Kyle Hall, left, with Mandi Constantine, executive director of telehealth and grant co-author.

Telehealth coordinator Kyle Hall, left, with Mandi Constantine, executive director of telehealth and grant co-author.

For many patients, being diabetic can come with a laundry list of medical complications, many of which require repeated trips to the emergency room or extended stays in the hospital to remedy.

And the cost of treating diabetes is staggering. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraskans spend more than $1 billion annually on medical costs and associated side effects of the disease.

But a grant from the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Innovation will help reduce these costs while simultaneously improving the quality of care. And this could all be accomplished without the patient ever setting foot in the hospital.

Better prevention efforts

"These patients could see a huge improvement in their quality of life and health by taking part in the program. The technology is now available to allow us to monitor our patients remotely and catch certain diabetes-related health problems before they become a larger issue that could possibly require a hospital stay or ER visit."


Mandi Constantine

The nearly $10 million grant will allow the clinical enterprise to target improving the health of patients through better prevention efforts and will specifically focus on patients in urban Omaha. The funding will be used to enroll qualified patients in a remote patient monitoring program that will follow their care for 90 days after discharge.

"These patients could see a huge improvement in their quality of life and health by taking part in the program," said Mandi Constantine, executive director of Telehealth and co-author of the grant. "The technology is now available to allow us to monitor our patients remotely and catch certain diabetes-related health problems before they become a larger issue that could possibly require a hospital stay or ER visit."

A paradigm shift

The grant will allow for 90 days of post-discharge patient monitoring and nurse coaching. Since diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in the U.S., the technology will be used to detect and treat patients for early signs of diabetic retinopathy. The program will also focus on improving nutritional habits, which has been shown to help slow the progression of complications from diabetes.

picture disc.
Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
"There has been a paradigm shift in the health care industry toward trying to keep people out of the hospital and keeping them healthy, rather than just treating them when they get sick," said Michael Ash, M.D., chief transformation officer. "This grant will not only help us do that, it allows the patient to be cared for in their own home."

"This grant also demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest quality care at the lowest sustainable cost," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "This is another example of how we are improving the health of our region and making it easier for people to manage their medical conditions."

A major accomplishment

"Earning this grant is a major accomplishment for Omaha and the med center," said Tadd Pullin, senior vice president of Marketing and Planning. "Mandi Constantine and Leslie Spethman, who co-authored the proposal, both worked tirelessly to make sure it was as comprehensive, detailed and competitive as possible. The fact that we were awarded the grant is a testament to their hard work and dedication."

"More than a dozen members from across the clinical enterprise and UNMC pitched in to secure this grant," Dr. Ash said. "This is just another example of how we are stronger as a single, integrated and aligned entity. We're always looking for ways use technology to improve the quality of care while reducing costs and this grant is a major step in that direction."

Funding from the grant will be divvied out over a three-year period. It will help pay for things like personnel, equipment, supplies and contracts.

"There will even be incentives for people to take part in the program," Constantine said. "The grant allows for gift cards to be handed out to patients depending on how thorough they are in things like uploading data and returning equipment."

Comments

Fill out the following and your comment will post once it has been approved.

Name (Required)

Email (Required)

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

Kim McFarland
July 16, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Way go! This is fantastic news! Congratulations!