By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

WINTHROP (CBS) – Joan Petersen doesn’t like going to the doctor, so she is taking her health care into her own hands. The Winthrop grandmother suffers from high blood pressure, so she takes her blood pressure at home every day. Her blood pressure readings are immediately uploaded to the computer and can be tracked by Joan and more importantly her doctor.

“Saves me from running to the doctor’s and it keeps me out of a nursing home,” says Joan with a smile. If the numbers get too high, for too long, Joan gets a call from her doctor. And if she’s doing fine she can skip a trip to the doctor. This system has allowed Joan to cancel at least six appointments in the past year.

Joan is among a growing group of patients remotely monitoring their health from home. Blood pressure, diabetes, even heart conditions are now being checked by the patients themselves. “It’s clearly the future of where we need to go with health care,” explains Dr. Joseph Kvedar with the Center for Connected Health. Dr. Kvedar sees the difference when patients play a bigger role in their own health. “They will create their own program and move their health to a new level by just watching the numbers and improving them, like a batting average or an ERA.”

It not only has the potential to make patients healthier but this type of technology could save as much as $197 billion dollars over the next 25 years. All thanks to better management of chronic, and costly, diseases. The next step? “We do have a program in blood pressure. It’s very exciting. We give patients the blood pressure cuff and the monitoring website but we also give them instructions on how to manage their own medications to make medication changes on their own,” says Dr. Kvedar.

It’s a simple, easy, and cost-effective way to empower patients. “I’m my own doctor sometimes. But I’m the one who has been with my body for 80 years, nobody else,” says Joan.


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