Remote patient monitoring service expands at Sanford

Patients can access free CareSignal program by phone call or text message

Remote patient monitoring service expands at Sanford

Sanford Health has a new program to help patients with chronic conditions stay in contact with their care team leaders.

Sanford CareSignal is a free service that lets patients self-report symptoms via a phone call or by text message. There is no device to buy or app to download. It’s simple, accessible and can be a valuable tool in helping maintain health.

CareSignal can help monitor:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Recovery after discharge from the hospital or emergency department

Regular communication with patients can enable care team leaders to make quicker interventions. This can lead to fewer health complications and smaller medical bills.

“Offering more frequent connections between scheduled primary care visits increases patients’ confidence in self-management of their condition,” said Lindsay Daniels, Sanford Health system executive director for care management. “It can initiate quicker care team responses related to worsening symptoms.”

How it works

CareSignal can also eliminate the burden of transportation for those whose access to care can mean extensive traveling. At the same time, it can improve a care team’s ability to manage case loads effectively.

So how does CareSignal work?

Once a physician enrolls a patient in the program, the patient will receive automated phone calls or text messages to check in and monitor their health. If the patient responds that symptoms are worsening, a care team member will follow up with additional support.

Participating in the Sanford CareSignal takes up just a few minutes each week. Participants can choose a time to be contacted.

“It’s a very low-tech way for patients to engage with us,” Daniels said. “That’s why we liked it. It works with devices patients already own and know how to operate.”

Communication with patients with chronic conditions can be a crucial element in maintaining wellness. Through the first year of the program, care leaders at participating Sanford Health locations are seeing fewer emergency department visits and fewer in-patient visits. They attribute this to the more consistent communication between care givers and patients that CareSignal can provide.

“Patients are becoming more engaged in their own care,” said Andrew Larson, Sanford Health director of operations, primary care.  “They can send us real-time information via our CareSignal platform that immediately goes back to trained staff who know how to interpret that information and can take action.”

A great tool for providers

Communication between patients and care managers can extend beyond clinical issues to other factors affecting health. It might be a patient in need of medicine they can’t afford or need help in navigating the health care system. Ultimately, CareSignal can serve as an effective tool in advancing a wide range of offerings, including virtual care.

“It can help connect patients to virtual care options,” Larson said. “It could be something as simple as a video visit with the primary care provider, or even just explaining that virtual care is available.”

CareSignal nurses can cite many examples of the service’s effectiveness. In one recent instance, a patient with diabetes was able to get set up with support to quit smoking and navigate the paperwork for county assistance. The CareSignal nurse was also able to refer the patient to a social worker.

“The nurses working with patients enrolled in the program are committed, caring individuals,” Daniels said. “They care about the patients and connecting them to the services they need, when they need them. The program’s success is largely due to their passion and expertise.”

Better patient interaction

Sanford Health care team leaders are looking forward to CareSignal’s advantages in delivering better care to their patients, particularly those with chronic conditions.

“What made us all initially very interested was that it gives us the ability to do things that feel like preventative health intervention,” Larson said. “Through CareSignal we get to interact with those patients in way we haven’t been able to historically.”

Remote patient monitoring began in earnest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanford Health has since then expanded its use and added new ways of making communication with patients more convenient. CareSignal represents an important addition to those efforts.

“The possibilities for different ways for us to connect with patients are seemingly endless,” Daniels said. “This is not the traditional way — this is not scheduling appointments and making them come to us. This is truly providing care where the patient is and where they want to receive care. I think it’s just the beginning of what we’ll be able to do to connect with patients between visits to help them lead healthier lives.”

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Posted In Fargo, Rural Health, Sioux Falls, Virtual Care