July 14, 2005

New Device Helps Manage Bipolar Disorder

'Health Buddy' helps home patients manage their care

A new electronic device named "Healthy Buddy" is helping patients at the South Mississippi Home Care and Hospice. The device which can be plugged into a telephone line and electrical outlet costs nothing to use and is quite convenient in that it can be used "any time of the day." Further, the device provides 16 "different programs individualized to the patient's need." The device currently helps monitor conditions such as "heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, artery disease, bipolar disorder, cystic fibrosis and others."Not only does the device help patients feel more secure by enabling them to easily connect to a case manager, but it also helps them manage their condition.

Donna Buckles, a case manager, demonstrated the device, explaining that it had been programmed for a patient with congestive heart failure.Four buttons below a small screen give the patient options for answering questions that appear on the screen. "Did you weigh yourself today?" If the patient answers yes, the Health Buddy responds with other questions, "What is your weight?" and "Is it more or less than last time you weighed?"The questions are simple and easy to follow, Buckles said. However, they are appropriate to the patient's case and provide a good look at his or her condition at the time. The Health Buddy prompts the patient to make calls to the case manger or the pharmacist or gives other instructions.
"I get on the Internet on a secure sight and can look at the questions and how they answered them," Buckles said. "I can call patients or have a nurse follow up with some further information when necessary."The Internet site is color coded, Huffines said. "The case manager's eye is drawn to the red on the screen, which tells her something is amiss" when the patient's information gets to the site.

Imagine the possible positive implications of this device in connection to bipolar disorder? It can remind a patient to take their meds., alert a case manager when the patient has not taken their meds., and even inform the case manager if the patient is feeling for example, suicidal. Of course this device takes for granted that the patient will answer the questions honestly, That is, there could be a tendency for patients to misrepresent their situation by answering the questions dishonestly. For example, a patient could answer "yes" to taking their meds. when in fact they haven't done so. Still, the device appears to be effective if the patient is willing to use it. As of now, only 73 patients are using the device. This may be due to the fact that the device only became available in January of this year.

Although the article did not mention the manufacturer of the device, this California-based company (Health Hero Network) looks like it is the source. More information about the Health Buddy product

Source: http://www.natchezdemocrat.com
Title: "'Health Buddy' helps home patients manage their care"
Author: Joan Gandy
Date: July 3, 2005.

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