Remote Monitoring is Helping Patients Track Their Blood Pressure Journey

In July 2019, UnitedHealthcare Community & State kicked off a pilot with Vivify, a recently acquired Optum asset that uses advanced remote monitoring technology to track patients' health in their homes. This seven-month pilot involved over 60 Wisconsin Medicaid members, each living with congestive heart failure, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) or diabetes. Each participant received a Vivify kit to monitor their health status and update their Care Managers in real time.

​What's in a Vivify Kit?

  1. A 4G tablet computer to answer questions, connect with Care Manager and learn about conditions.
  2. A blood pressure cuff to measure blood pressure daily.
  3. An oximeter to measure oxygen levels daily.
  4. A Bluetooth connected scale to capture body weight.

Sheila, a 62-year-old Medicaid member with COPD, participated in the pilot. Her journey highlights the benefits of Vivify's remote monitoring technology and the relationship she formed with her UnitedHealthcare Care Manager, Sarah Gibbs, a registered nurse who had 15 patients in the Vivify pilot.

After Sheila set up her Vivify kit, Sarah received an alert that her blood pressure was dangerously elevated. Sarah encouraged her to seek care. After reviewing Sheila's medications, Sarah learned she was scattering her medications in several places, including her pillowcase. Sarah mailed her a pill organizer. In a follow-up conversation, Sarah discovered Sheila had not followed up with her doctor since her hospital discharge and her blood pressure remained elevated.

"When we spoke, I thought she had an appointment scheduled and realized she hadn't made one," Sarah shared.

"I wasn't feeling well, and I needed to go to the doctor. Sarah said I should," Sheila added.

When Sheila saw a doctor and Sarah noticed her blood pressure was still elevated, Sheila told Sarah she had only picked up one of two new medications. Sarah then contacted Aurora Pharmacy and changed the medication to home delivery. Since then, Sarah has only heard good news from Sheila and her monitoring devices.

"I get the pill organizers at the end of the month now and the organizer is on my windowsill, so I know right where it is," Sheila said.

Sarah and Sheila's video calls have gone from daily to once or twice a week, and her blood pressure has gone down. Sheila credits her Vivify monitoring technology, home delivery and her pill organizer, with helping her stay out of the hospital and taken her medications daily.

"As a nurse I get used to people telling me what I want to hear sometimes, so when I told Sheila she should make an appointment and called the next day and she had, I was glad. Sarah said.

Sheila appreciates the ease of using her Vivify kit. "I like it, it works well. I just answer two questions, I do my blood pressure, my weight and my oxygen, and if something goes wrong Sarah tells me what do," she said.

The remote monitoring technology helps Sarah monitor Sheila's blood pressure and oxygen levels, and the tablet adds a human element to their interactions that does not go unnoticed.

"I do appreciate her calling me, asking how I feel and how I'm doing," said Sheila, "She's a good friend and doing a good job."

Sarah noticed the difference in her relationships with members in the Vivify pilot compared to members who did not have daily video chats available. Patients in the Vivify trial do not ignore her calls and always follow her instructions because they trust Sarah wants and knows how to help them. This form of digital health care, with a focus on relationships, has led to better health results for Sheila and other members using Vivify technology.

"I'm feeling good today! I am 62 and I feel 26," Sheila said.