October 31, 2016

CON Grant to Study Benefits of Mobile Health Equipment

Leanne LeflerTwo faculty in the College of Nursing — Leanne Lefler, PhD, APRN, and Bill Buron, PhD, APRN — are serving as principal investigators on a pilot program to study the impact of home-based, mobile health equipment on older adults with chronic heart failure.  The research team received $5,000 in funding from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $3,600 from the UAMS College of Nursing Intramural Program.  The study will look at how effective mobile health equipment such as a wireless blood pressure cuff and weight scale used at home, compare to the traditional methods of self-monitoring and routine primary care visits.  Results from the cuff and scale will be automatically sent to the UAMS ANGELS Call Center in the UAMS Center for Distance Health. If results are abnormal, a nurse from the Call Center will contact the patient and determine if he or she should seek medical treatment.  Researchers expect the study will provide evidence that improving home care through mobile health equipment, or mHealth equipment, will improve care and reduce hospital readmissions.

The study will also look at patient satisfaction in using the equipment, as well as the level of care each option provides the patient. The research team hopes to recruit up to 60 participants for the study.  “In this way, we may be able to reduce health emergencies and emergency room visits,” said Lefler. “We hope to help the patient with self-management of their heart failure and also reduce unwanted and expensive hospitals visits by providing a device to detect symptoms and that can bring earlier intervention.”  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.7 million adults in the United States have heart failure. This costs an estimated $30.7 billion each year in health care services, medications and workforce production.  “We hope this will lead to better care and increased patient satisfaction through closer monitoring and ease of use,” said Buron.  Data from the study will be used to improve methods of care, especially for older adults in rural and underserved areas of the state who may have to drive long distances to see their providers, said Lefler.  “This information will improve knowledge of progression or decline in a patient’s symptoms and, hopefully reduce hospitalization rates,” she said. “If we are successful with this pilot study, we plan to submit a proposal to NIH to test the telehealth intervention further.”