Living far away from a loved one with a chronic illness can complicate many things, not the least of which is their daily care. As the miles expand so do the worries, especially when a loved one suffers from a condition that requires constant monitoring and evaluation.
Thanks to new Medicare benefits recently introduced at Augusta University Health, those concerned can be put at ease.
“Medicare will now pay for what’s called chronic care management,” said Dr. Janis Coffin, medical director of the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Patients with two or more chronic medical issues who require more than 20 minutes of care coordination every month are eligible for the new services.
Primary among those services is remote patient monitoring, which involves an app that allows a patient’s loved ones to be notified if the patient has been taking medication, checking blood pressure or doing other things necessary to deal with a chronic illness. If a patient falls below certain levels, NavCare, the company administering the new benefits, will contact them to see if changes need to be made to their routine home medical treatment.
“NavCare will call the patient and say, you need to take an additional dosage or ask if they are having any shortness of breath,” said Coffin. “They will go over their symptoms to try to keep them from having to go back to the emergency room or go back to their physician to see what’s going on. If there are blood pressure issues, they will send out a new blood pressure kit.”
NavCare will also arrange for patient transportation from the hospital and provide canes, walkers, shower chairs or other necessary equipment.
AU Health is one of the few institutions in the area providing these benefits through NavCare.