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Honolulu Advertiser, March 31, 2009, St. Francis to Offer Telehealth on Oahu 

St. Francis to offer telehealth on Oahu

St. Francis Health System said it hopes to improve healthcare service to patients on O'ahu by offering health monitoring through telehealth services.

The system's Home Care Services operation will offer the service at no cost to patients, allowing them to do checks for such vital signs as blood pressure, weight and blood sugar level at home or in nursing homes. The data is gathered at home using a telehealth monitor then transmitted to St. Francis.

Currently, St. Francis home health nurses visit some patients two or three times a week to assess medical conditions. Telehealth allows nurses to see real-time data and contact patients virtually on a daily basis.

"Telehealth allows us to catch troubling signs early and is a valuable tool to enhance a patient's health," said Corinne Suzuka, St. Francis Home Care Services executive director.

The system will begin with 10 monitors and will add more as physician referrals increase. To qualify for home health services, the patient must be homebound or unable to leave home unassisted and in need of skilled nursing care, physical therapy or speech/language therapy.

Patients must be evaluated by a physician to get a referral and a telehealth monitor for about 60 days.

St. Francis already is using six telehealth monitors on Kaua'i, helping reduce trips to emergency rooms for at least two patients.