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New kind of vital health monitoring puts patients in driver's seat

Brainerd lakes area resident Maxine Lathrop likes to spend a little time on her touchpad each morning. At first glance, you might think she’s checking email or playing a game. But actually, she is taking her blood pressure. A wireless cuff sends a signal to the touchpad, which then relays the reading to a home care nurse to check every day.

Lathrop didn’t even know such a device existed until a recent hospital stay for a little trouble with her left foot. Since then, home care nurses have been recording her vitals via her touchpad each day and then communicating them with her doctor. The end result has been changes in medication to help aide in her journey back to good health.

Good Samaritan Society-Home Care nurse Andrea Lange said this new way of monitoring wellness is really putting people in the driver’s seat and making them more aware of their own health issues and how to manage them.

“I like the idea that I am being proactive,” said Lathrop. “I don’t have to rely on a nurse to come or make a visit to the doctor. I can check any of my vitals, whenever I want, to keep track of what changes in activity, diet and medication are doing. And, it is great peace of mind knowing someone else is helping me keep track of any changes or issues seven days a week.”

Lange said the ability to help people monitor and control their health via non-invasive, wireless options makes maintaining wellness more accessible for people.

“Oftentimes folks believe they are relatively healthy until there is an illness or injury. It isn’t until there is a need to dig a little a deeper that there becomes opportunity for prevention and realization we could all use tools like this to maintain and improve our wellness,” she said.

The wireless touchpad system not only monitors vitals, but can be programmed to remind patients of appointments and ask specific questions related to a patient’s health issues to help them better understand when they are experiencing subtle warning signs. A nurse is then able to coach them how to manage signs and symptoms so they don’t result in a trip to the hospital.

Lathrop shakes her head and laughs at the idea of a touchpad being one of her new partners in health. Lange agrees.

“If you would have told me the concept for a cell phone 25 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it possible, or that everyone would have one. But, it is the same idea. We are improving health through technology, and eventually it will really catch on,” she said.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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