Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
"Health Buddy" Technology Prods Veterans to Live a Healthier Lifestyle
February 23, 2009
Care Coordinators Crystal Tabangay, R.N., B.S.N. (left) and Omana Simon, F.N.P.-B.C. discuss the benefits of the Health Buddy with Marine Veteran Alonzo Pouncy. Veterans with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure can be monitored at home using special telehealth technologies provided to them by the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Photo by Fran Burke, Public Affairs Specialist
HOUSTON – Veterans with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure can be monitored at home using special telehealth technologies provided to them by the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).
The Health Buddy is a simple piece of equipment similar to an answering machine that can be placed anywhere in Veteran’s home where there is a power outlet and a working telephone jack. It is friendly, convenient, and easy to use.
Specific questions about the Veteran and his illness are programmed into the Health Buddy. The Veteran simply answers the questions each day. Information obtained such as blood pressure and blood glucose, along with other patient information in the electronic system, allows his or her care coordinator to anticipate and prevent avoidable problems. Coordinators monitor the information daily and contact the patient for any medication adjustments or schedule any appointments necessary to keep the Veteran as healthy as possible.
“The ultimate goal of the program is to work with each Veteran to teach him how to improve his quality of life. Motivation and enthusiasm on the Veteran’s part is a key factor to success,” said Omana Simon, F.N.P.-B.C., Care Coordination/Home Telehealth coordinator. “Our oldest participating Veteran is 90 years old.”
The Health Buddy does not replace routine medical appointments; rather it simply enhances primary care. The new technology has become increasingly popular with Veterans because it provides greater access to medical care. Veterans take a more active role in their well-being and have peace of mind knowing their health care providers have up-to-date information every day in order to adjust their medical care. They know someone is looking out for their welfare.
“The coordinators motivate you to live a better life and lifestyle. They monitor, follow-up, and lovingly “prod” you to do better. I am living a healthier life because of this program,” said Army Veteran James Leonard.
Since MEDVAMC began the Care Coordination/Home Telehealth program in December 2005, 499 Veterans have enrolled in the program with 294 Veterans currently actively using the system.
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