Montefiore explores texting for diabetic teens, pre-op care

Montefiore Medical Center is exploring deploying text messaging services and wearable monitoring devices to help teens with diabetes and using text services for enhancing pre-op patient care.

The New York-based hospital, part of the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, is mulling new mobile initiatives given favorable feedback from an ongoing text pilot that lets clinicians help patients keep track of medication and treatment.

"We are looking to partner with patients and their families in the care process," Mony Weschler (pictured), chief strategist at Montefiore, told FierceMobileHealthcare. "We are evaluating the feasibility of prescribing fitness to adolescents in our care which includes the use of a wearable activity monitors. The study would evaluate if we can change behavior for obese diabetic patients by having them do self-monitoring and social competitions."

Mobile monitoring of diabetic employees can save more than $3,000 a year in healthcare costs, half of the average annual medical insurance cost for workers diagnosed with diabetes, according to recently published research. Montefiore is just one of many medical facilities piloting mobile tools, which run the gamut from real-time video communications between patients and doctors to Google Glass customized for use by emergency room physicians.

For the pilot, 12 caseworkers send two daily messages related to treatment to patients. There are 70 patients enrolled, with half serving as part of a control group. The care managers walk through a script when they enroll a patient and the messages are automatically generated from a pool of 1,500 approved statements. The texts are scheduled for approximately 30 days of communication to the patient based on their disease state. The care manager can enter a customized message if needed.

"We evaluate new technologies very carefully,' Weschler said. "Typically after a few months, we evaluate, tune and then go again. We do not know exactly how long the total study will run at this point."

Now in its second month, the hospital is receiving positive feedback from patients.

"Very preliminary results are showing that in follow-up interviews, a very high percentage of patients found the support helpful with motivating, educating and connecting them to their care manager, and that [the patients] would like to continue receiving the support," Weschler said.

Given such results, Montefiore also is considering deploying next generation of biosensors that can monitor a patient's heart rate, ECG, respiration, core body temp, position and gait.

"Wearable technology is at its infancy," Weschler said. "The possibilities are limited only by imagination."

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