Geert Pruisman can usually be found in his garden, raking up leaves and trimming trees.
He’s a very active and sprightly 79-year-old gentleman from Odoorn, the Netherlands and, looking at him now, you wouldn’t believe that there was a time when he could barely manage a walk of 50 meters, let alone spend the day patiently taking care of his flower beds.*
What you might not realize if you were to meet him today is that Mr. Pruisman is suffering from both the most severe form of heart failure and COPD. Not so long ago, he didn’t have the stamina to tend his garden, and his weeks were an exhausting cycle of doctor’s appointments and trips to the hospital. So, what changed?
The eHealth Triumph
Happily, in 2010, Mr. Pruisman elected to take part in an eHealth (telemonitoring) trial at the Scheper hospital in Emmen, the Netherlands. Data relating to his weight, blood pressure and cardiac rhythm was streamed from his home directly to the eHealth center at the hospital – this is still happening today. Wietse Veenstra, Mr. Pruisman's specialist heart-failure nurse, monitors the results and will call him straight away if they are not within his ideal range or subtle deterioration is noticed.
A senior using a Philips telehealth solution at home
Since then, regular hospital trips and endless check-ups are a thing of the past, and Mr. Pruisman has suffered no further acute decline in his health.
This trial was a success but what really made the difference to Mr. Pruisman was not just health trackers and 24/7 monitoring, but the fact that he was given the information and advice to empower him to take charge of his own health.
This green-fingered gentleman now knows to maintain his weight at 78.2 kg, because that's the weight at which he feels most energetic. He understands when it’s time to take a break from cutting the grass and when he should take it easy for a few days. He feels secure because he is supported by his care team around the clock, but he relies on them less and less because he better understands how to stay as healthy as possible.
Why has this method of care made such a positive difference to Mr. Pruisman’s life? Well, the crucial factors were access to health data, self-management and the highly personalized interaction between the patient and caregiver. With the approval of Mr. Pruisman, his authorized care team members were given access to all the necessary data, from multiple devices, which, combined with Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data, allowed them to remotely monitor his Personal Health Journey.
The Rise of the Electronic Personal Health Journey
I know what you are thinking. What is a Personal Health Journey? An electronic Personal Health Journey is much more than just an electronic file containing health data, or a Personal Health Record (PHR). It combines data that is continuously ingested during someone’s health and care path from multiple sources, devices and systems, all of which is then normalized to create better understanding (for example, inches are converted to meters). All this information is finally analyzed to support clinical decisions, daily behavioral nudges and timely interventions. A Personal Health Journey turns data into actionable information.
Mr. Pruisman would benefit even more from having access to his Personal Health Journey because it brings together longitudinal information from all the people involved in his treatment, such as his COPD specialist, his general practitioner and the nurses providing care in his home. It gives him insight into his past status and his current status, and a plan for the future.