Ochsner Health Awarded Nearly $1M for Digital Health Program

Ochner Cs Logo 2NEW ORLEANS – From Ochsner Health:

Ochsner Health was awarded $999,996 by the Federal Communications Commission as part of Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Ochsner will use the grant to fund Connected Health’s remote monitoring devices which support and deliver digital care to a range of patients – from pregnant mothers to others with chronic diseases, such as Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes. This is the second round of funding the FCC has awarded Ochsner Health through the competitive program, bringing the total to nearly $2 million.

“Connected Health is revolutionizing our ability to reach and care for patients beyond our walls. These funds will further strengthen our digital health program, enhance our ability to meet patients where they are and, ultimately, improve clinical outcomes,” said Warner L. Thomas, Ochsner’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the FCC as well as our congressional delegations in Louisiana and Mississippi for recognizing the significant role of digital medicine in healthcare accessibility. This investment is a positive step towards our vision of creating a healthier state for all we serve and directly addresses barriers that impact the health and livelihood of our communities.”

With more than 22,000 patients receiving care through its Connected Health program, more than 10,000 of which received smart devices at no cost, Ochsner Health has established itself as a national leader in digital medicine.

In addition to reducing risks associated with COVID-19 and improving clinical outcomes, Ochsner’s digital medicine program decreases unnecessary visits and reduces overall medical cost of care. Throughout the pandemic, Ochsner has seen a rapid increase in digital healthcare and telehealth visits. In 2020, Ochsner conducted more than 324,000 virtual visits, a 10,000 percent increase over 2019’s pre-pandemic figures. Patient participation in Ochsner’s digital medicine programs to manage chronic health conditions, like hypertension and diabetes, increased by 67 percent in 2020.

“Investing in healthcare technology has allowed our patients to take an active role in their healthcare and provided convenient access to their care teams,” said David Houghton, system chair of telehealth and medical director of digital medicine. “Even before the pandemic we saw the need to bring healthcare to our patients in an approachable and cost-effective way. COVID-19 made telehealth a necessity and ensured that patients continued to get quality healthcare outside of a hospital or clinic.”

 Ochsner has also leveraged Connected Health programs to minimize risks of COVID-19 exposure for another vulnerable population: expectant mothers. Through Ochsner’s Connected MOM (Maternity Online Monitoring) program, pregnant women have been able to interact with their care team digitally, reducing the number of in-person visits. Connected MOM patients can digitally send weight and blood pressure readings to their medical teams.

“The value of Connected MOM became all the more apparent during COVID-19 when non-emergency in-office appointments were discouraged,” said Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, director of quality for women’s services. “We’ve found that our patients like the convenience of this one-on-one, personalized care, and without the burden of multiple trips to the doctor, feel more connected than with traditional care. We’ve also seen significantly higher rates of compliance with things like blood pressure tests. Ultimately, the connectivity and convenience of digital medicine adds up to healthier patients.”

This funding from the FCC will help Ochsner provide these state-of-the-art tools for free to many more expecting mothers across Louisiana and Mississippi, engaging patients and improving outcomes, said Gillispie-Bell.

Digital medicine has also allowed Ochsner to serve patients after natural disasters, including recent Hurricanes Laura and Ida, which caused catastrophic damage to the communities along the Gulf Coast. Ochsner provided free virtual urgent care and behavioral health visits to those impacted by the storms and set-up digital healthcare hubs in community health centers.

 

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