How do you boost chronic care at home? Call in the geeks

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

For a patient with a chronic condition who is coming home from the hospital, it can be overwhelming trying to follow discharge instructions. After a trying hospital stay, the last thing they may want to worry about is how to install a self-measured blood pressure monitor. But what if there were a way to take the guesswork out of technology installation and use?

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Officials at the Geisinger integrated health system believe they have found a way, and it involves partnering with a well-known name in consumer technology.

Since 2022, Geisinger has leveraged Best Buy’s Geek Squad to deliver, install and activate remote-care management devices in a program that includes over 300 patients from the health system. The devices include blood pressure cuffs, body weight scales, thermometers and glucose meters to monitor patients’ health at home and transmit data back to their care team at Geisinger, which is a member of the AMA Health System Program that provides enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

Geek Squad agents help educate patients on the technology in their care plan, answer questions about the devices, explain how to use them properly and ensure they are transmitting data back to the care team. They also remain on standby to help with any troubleshooting needs and to collect and process all devices once the patient is discharged from the program by their care team.

“The value of this program is really about patient engagement, access, and making better health easy, and also the aspect of … self-accountability long term and making you feel comfortable to be a part of your own care and taking charge of your own health,” said Emily Fry, vice president of innovation for the Steele Institute for Health Innovation at Geisinger.

Prior to the Geek Squad partnership, it took four days from admission into the chronic care at home program to complete device setup and enable the Geisinger care team to start remote patient monitoring. That has been cut in half to two days. Additionally, there has been a 19% improvement in how well patients follow their care plans by wearing and using their remote technology equipment more consistently. Meanwhile, there has also been an 18% reduction in technical issues reported.

Here is how working with the Geek Squad helps Geisinger improve care for its patients with chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension or diabetes.

Geek Squad goes “to patients’ homes, they’re innovative, they set up technology and they make sure it works. That’s what we needed,” said Joann Sciandra, vice president, care coordination and integration at Geisinger. “Before Geek Squad, it was a lot of back and forth between the care team and the patient, causing delays in care.”

“With Geek Squad delivering monitoring devices and educating the patients within their home on the use, we have found patients to be more comfortable and compliant. The result is we are able to have early identification of problems and intervention, which is key to keeping patients safe at home,” Sciandra said.

“Overall, patients have been good working with Geek Squad because they are familiar with the Best Buy name. We coordinate with the patient the best time for the setup so there are no surprises upon arrival of Geek Squad,” she said. 

Geek Squad also ensures all devices are operational before they leave the home.

“This is one thing we take off the patient’s shoulders and make sure it’s right,” Sciandra said.

Previously, health professionals whose time should be spent on patient care were dealing with at-home tech troubles instead.

“We don’t need a registered nurse on the phone trying to troubleshoot—and we were doing that,” she said. “We need that RN to be taking care of the patients who are up and running and watching for alerts and intervening.”

Watch this video to learn more about one patient’s experience with the program.

Sciandra noted that Gesinger has a collaborative care-at-home model that brings personalized health care to members where they live.

“Part of this arrangement with Best Buy Health, with the Geek Squad, is to identify opportunities in how we monitor patients in their home,” she said.

“We know hospital stays can have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of patients. Patients want to be in their homes and there are times when that is possible due to this monitoring,” Sciandra said. “Remote patient monitoring is a tool in the toolbox that our clinicians use for appropriate patients and has had an impact on the management of chronic conditions.”

Learn more with the AMA Remote Patient Monitoring Playbook.