MaineHealth Case Study

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Overview

Waldo County Medical Partners Family Medicine Telehealth Pilot Improves Patients’ Quality of Life

Waldo County Medical Partners (WCMP) Family Medicine (part of Waldo County General Hospital) is a critical access hospital within the Coastal Healthcare Alliance and MaineHealth system. Through partnerships with community-minded agencies, Waldo County General Hospital is committed to providing excellent, efficient care to patients and their families using the latest technology.

Challenge

Preventative care covers a broad range of health care services that reduce patients’ likelihood of experiencing a medical emergency. As a critical access hospital, serving rural communities across Maine, Waldo County General Hospital prioritizes preventative care in order to reduce health care costs and to improve patients’ quality of life.

When launching its preventative care initiative, WCMP Family Medicine encountered common, but significant, barriers:

Gear and Wrench

Resistance to Lifestyle Changes: Patients with multiple chronic conditions and detailed care plans felt overwhelmed and unable to undertake additional lifestyle changes.

Patient Success Stories

Limited Patient Interactions: Brief, 20-minute patient visits left little time for providers to review the complex factors that impact patients’ overall health.

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Lack of Accountability: Inconsistent, biometric data presented challenges to the assessment of patients’ progress and prevented providers from making timely adjustments to patients’ care plans and medication regimens.

Solution

As a preventative health initiative, WCMP Family Medicine launched a six-month telehealth pilot program beginning in December 2020. While enrolled in the pilot, patients were asked to participate in group telemedicine visits and record their vital signs weekly, including weight, heart rate, and oxygen level. Providers at WCMP Family Medicine leveraged patient data collected through remote patient monitoring (RPM), such as vital signs and symptom surveys, to adjust patients’ care plans.

Through the Pilot, WCMP Family Medicine Provided:

  • Group telemedicine visits to increase the number of provider-patient interactions and allow patients to garner knowledge and support from one another.

  • Biometric monitoring to evaluate patients’ progress, identify exacerbations, and hold patients accountable to follow their care plans and meet their goals.

  • Custom education to bolster patient engagement and empower patients to continue learning about their condition, care plan, and symptom mitigation.

Our patients have been so committed to establishing a healthier lifestyle through nutritional changes and exercise. They have fought through COVID isolation and have gained so much by being able to meet as a group via telehealth. This would not have been successful without the ability of our patients to collect weights at home and have them download digitally into their chart. The remote monitoring allows us to communicate and encourage our patients as well as collect accurate data.

- Dr. Heather Ward
WCMP Family Medicine

Average Decrease in Body Weight

Of Telehealth Patients Reported being More Involved in their Care

Results

The pilot program was established to assess the impact of enhanced patient monitoring and increased provider engagement on patient outcomes. Though several metrics were evaluated, change in body weight was used as a key indicator to gauge program success and patient progress.

Over the first six months, patients achieved exceptional results, recording an average decrease in body weight of more than 10%. Body weight was used as a key indicator due to its correlation with improved joint pain, decreased risk of cancer, better overall mood, and greater blood pressure control, among other health outcomes. In addition, patient activity and tolerance was closely monitored through the RPM platform, increasing significantly across all participants - many of whom had never consistently exercised prior to joining the program. 

Finally, patient satisfaction and engagement was evaluated through a series of survey questions, with 90% of participants responding that the program made them feel more involved in their care.