Residents in central Alberta are enrolling in a remote monitoring project that uses technology to support health care management. The pandemic has increased the need for alternative care delivery models, as patients with chronic health conditions are at an increased risk of serious complications from exposure to illness. The initiative, called the Alberta Central Zone PCN Home Health Monitoring (HHM) Project, uses teams of Primary Care Network (PCN) nurses and physicians to remotely monitor care for patients with chronic health conditions, minimizing risk of exposure to COVID-19 while easing stress on the health system. The project is a collaboration between the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS), Alberta Central Zone Primary Care Networks (PCNs), Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., TELUS Health, Alberta Innovates, and Health Cities.
Health Cities interviewed a series of patients enrolled in the program to provide insight into their experiences. The interviews below are part of this series.
When Clarence Wayne was diagnosed with COPD in 2018, he was able to manage the condition successfully with only minimal intervention from medical professionals. With a combination of medication and therapy, Clarence went on with his day-to-day activities. However, as time went on, there were a few incidents that required emergency services and hospitalization.
“I had to call an ambulance one or two times,” Clarence recalled. “I recovered quickly, but there were a few times my doctor had to escalate my care.”
Clarence learned about the Alberta Central Zone PCN Committee Home Health Monitoring project from his family doctor, who recommended that he participate. As his doctor is a member of the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network (PCN), he was able to participate in this new opportunity.
The goal of the Alberta Central Zone PCN Committee Home Health Monitoring Project is to ensure that patients living with chronic conditions are supported to manage their care remotely. Using medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs, weigh scales, glucometers, pulse oximeters and thermometers, patients monitor their health at home. The data from these home measurements is added and stored in a secure online system that is monitored by their primary healthcare team.
“To be honest, I thought the daily measurements would be overkill because I would normally only survey my condition about three times per week,” Clarence reflected. “But it provided really good feedback in terms of a data trail in how I was doing. Because of the daily check-ins, I would notice that my condition was changing, so I could be more proactive than reactive. That was one of the goals of the program, and it was successful.”
Kenny Wilkes* was on a mission to get in shape. By all accounts, all of his work was paying off and he was seeing the results desired. However, in January of 2021, an appointment with his doctor came with unexpected news: Kenny was diagnosed with type II diabetes. The condition requires regular medication, maintenance, and monitoring.
Kenny explains, “In my home country, many men living with diabetes lose a leg. I have three kids, and my family was depending on me financially. I started thinking, ‘am I going to die and leave them?’”
Kenny had already started changing his eating habits in an attempt to reverse the effects of his diagnosis. Working with his primary care physician through the Red Deer Primary Care Network (PCN), Kenny began participating in the Alberta Central Zone PCN Committee Home Health Monitoring Project to monitor his condition and progress each day.
“It was good because of the daily check-ins with the care team. I would monitor throughout the day and see the trends in my readings,” says Kenny. “The project is particularly helpful for people who are living alone. If you miss one check-in, the care team will call and see if something is going on, and provide intervention if you need it.”
Through lifestyle change, regular maintenance, and monitoring, Kenny was able to come off most of his medications. Even without the medication, Kenny continues the monitoring.
“The monitoring and lifestyle changes made a big impact on my condition.”
*Name has been changed at the patient’s request
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