GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ever since her son’s birth in December, Elicia Ford has looked forward to the day when she can bring little Levi home to Panama City, Florida.
Levi, 3 months old, was born at University of Florida Health Shands Children’s Hospital with a rare congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which the left side of the heart is not fully developed. Before he was a month old, Levi had his first reconstructive surgery and he is awaiting his second operation, which will take place before June. For children like Levi, the time between the first and second operation is the most critical for monitoring vital signs.
Starting this month, high-risk cardiology infants diagnosed with single-ventricle heart defects like hypoplastic left-heart syndrome who are cared for at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, part of the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, will be the first in Florida to be sent home with specially configured iPads that will allow their caregivers to submit vital signs and other important data about their child’s condition to clinicians at UF Health in real time. In the past, vital signs had to be collected in writing by caregivers, calculated manually and submitted to clinicians in a binder during an in-person visit. This new app allows caregivers to submit the baby’s vital signs directly into a clinician portal and engage with the clinical team instantly in a number of ways, including via secure video and photo capabilities.
The new app is a two-way communication and engagement platform, providing patient families with a comprehensive resource during the at-home recovery period, one that helps to reduce confusion and anxiety for families during what can be an overwhelming time. The app was developed by Charlottesville, Virginia-based Locus Health, a provider of remote patient-care solutions.
The app is one more example of how UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 pediatric cardiology and heart surgery centers in the country and No. 1 in Florida, is providing innovative care to its highest-risk patients. In addition, the Single Ventricle Home Monitoring Program, created by Jennifer Co-Vu, M.D., as part of the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, has a zero mortality rate.
“This new technology is a wonderful resource for our high-risk cardiology patients and their families, many of whom travel from hours away to get to our center,” said Mark Bleiweis, M.D., director and chief of congenital cardiothoracic surgery at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. “We’re confident that the program will allow for better engagement between families and our clinical staff, giving everyone confidence that our infants are doing well during the critical at-home monitoring period. It will also allow us to troubleshoot problems remotely and better serve patients from further distances than we were ever able to see prior to the app.”
“UF Health is a perfect partner, because of its long history of health care innovation, particularly in the field of pediatric and adult congenital heart care,” said Scott Magargee, senior vice president of Locus Health. “This is the research institution that brought us Gatorade, the modified adenovirus vector and gene therapy, the techno-home, and the 15-minute in-home HIV saliva test. It’s only fitting that they should now bring us 24/7 remote patient care management through this new app. We’re enormously proud to partner on the project with UF Health, particularly given its distinction as a Center for Excellence in providing innovative care to its cardiology patients, as we share their vision of health care innovation.”