New tech deal gives legs to remote telehealth

House call: Bernard Feinstein, a 100-year-old Northwell Health patient from Queens, and his 21st century telemonitor.

Northwell Health is once again stepping up its telemonitoring game.

The Northwell Health Home Care Network has announced an agreement with a New Jersey health-tech firm that will provide patients with Bluetooth-enabled tablets for videoconferencing with their doctors – and even transmitting internal vital signs.

The announcement comes just one month after Northwell Ventures, the New Hyde Park-based health system’s venture-capital branch, announced an undisclosed investment in Virginia-based telehealth solution provider Avizia Inc.

Through the new partnership, Health Recovery Solutions will provide “advanced telemonitoring technology” to Northwell Health patients, according to the health system. The Hoboken-based firm creates platforms and protocols that help medical centers and home-health agencies reduce hospital readmissions and care for higher-risk patients in remote locations, with a strong focus on patient compliance with professional medical instructions.

Each wireless tablet in the Northwell Health deal includes a moveable video camera, blood-pressure and digital weight monitors and a pulse oximeter, used to measure blood oxygen levels.

They also include a “live-listening stethoscope,” which reads patients’ heart and lung functions and reports them directly to a conferenced-in healthcare provider.

The mobile devices are designed specifically to transmit vital signs and symptom information to physicians, nurses and family members in real time and to trigger alerts for high-risk patients in emergency situations.

The deal adds legs to previous Northwell Health Home Care Network telemonitoring efforts, which were designed primarily for desktop computers and did not leverage mobile technologies.

Noting that telemonitoring is “a wonderful tool to help reduce re-hospitalizations,” RN Diane Asquino, the Northwell Health Home Care Network’s director of patient services, said the HRS tablets reinforce her agency’s commitment to using new and advanced technologies to enhance patient outcomes – while increasing patients’ involvement in their own healthcare.

“It engages the patient in managing their health by helping them to identify symptoms early,” Asquino said Monday. “If they think something is wrong, they can notify their physicians immediately to reduce hospitalizations.”

Terms of the HRS deal were not disclosed. However, the new partnership makes Northwell Health one of the first home-health providers in New York – and “the first on Long Island” – to provide Bluetooth-enabled telemonitoring capabilities, according to the health system, which ranks as both New York State’s largest healthcare provider and the state’s largest private employer.