A new service offered to a select group of seniors in Connecticut may have much wider applications and could dramatically improve services and contain costs for many more. Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County’s newest service, Home Telehealth, allows seniors to communicate with health care professionals directly from their homes.

Home Telehealth, which has so far produced positive patient outcomes, relies on an interactive computer system with audio-video capability, allowing nurses and their patients to interact in real time. From the clinic or hospital, a nurse can see and hear a patient and make diagnoses and recommendations, saving a trip, which can be especially useful for disabled patients or those who can no longer drive.

The technological setup at a patient’s home includes a small camera, microphone, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and stethoscope. Through this innovative tool, a nurse can check a patient’s oxygen levels and blood pressure, listen to heart and lung sounds, detect subtle changes in health status, communicate with physicians to make immediate changes in medications or treatment, and, in case of an emergency, alert emergency personnel.

Designed to supplement regular homecare visits, Home Telehealth helps seniors feel more secure about their overall health condition and stay independent longer. Along with improving health, the new service can help patients save money and avoid trips to the hospital or emergency room.