Navy Veteran Bobby Osborne enjoys an active daily regiment. He works in his outdoor workshop. In addition, he rides his custom three-wheeled trike motorcycle around the streets and open countryside near his Waxahachie, Texas, home.
Religiously, he gets out of bed bright and early. Also, he prepares that first cup of coffee and attends to his companion dogs and cats. Osborne maximizes every minute of his day.
There’s one more task that Osborne does before heading out his front door each morning. It involves a small desk and monitor in the corner of his bedroom. Osborne takes his blood pressure and uses the pulse oximeter to measure his oxygen level as part of VA’s home telehealth program. He’s followed this routine for two years.
Keeps him active and independent
It’s these key numbers relayed to his VA North Texas health care team that keep this 96-year old Navy Veteran of World War II active and independent.
“I see my regular doctor at the Dallas VA about every six months,” said Osborne. “But my nurse sees my numbers every day and I don’t have to even leave my home.”
Osborne’s results are sent to his home telehealth care coordinator through the telehealth monitor. The nurse reviews his vital signs as soon as he sends them through the device and, if anything is concerning, contacts him right away. This convenience enables Veterans like Osborne, who lives 30 miles away from his health care team, to be as connected as someone who lives a short walk away from the facility.
The telehealth program integrates telecommunications technologies. It provides health care across geographic, time, social and cultural barriers.
“The goal of home telehealth is to improve clinical outcomes and access to care while reducing complications, hospitalizations and clinic or emergency room visits for Veterans in post-acute care settings,” said Daisy Thomas. Thomas is a registered nurse and Interim Nurse Manager for Home Telehealth at VA North Texas.
“Through telehealth, we can manage common chronic diseases. For example, hypertension, diabetes, COPD, depression and PTSD.”
Veterans learn about self-care
The VA North Texas telehealth program has approximately 1,100 enrolled Veterans. Consults coming in from ambulatory care, cardiology, nephrology, mental health and other services. As a result, the number is growing.
Enrolled patients can improve their quality of life through education about self-care from the program. Other resources include care coordinators, daily health checks and frequent follow up calls from their care coordinator.
For patients like Osborne, there’s a great sense of confidence in having a provider review and verify his health and vital numbers on a regular basis.
“I’ve really learned to listen to my body and when I need to relax, I relax,” said Osborne.
VA North Texas patients enrolled in home telehealth are quick to recommend the program to other Veterans.
Osborne turned 96 on February 25.
“I’m not slowing down, that’s for sure. Programs like home telehealth greatly help me maintain my routine,” said Osborne.
Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist with VA North Texas Health Care System.