published Friday, October 26th, 2012

Chattanooga-based mental health center adopts online monitoring program

New technology being added at Chattanooga-based Volunteer Behavioral Health Care Systems will allow doctors, family members and caregivers to remotely monitor people in outpatient care for mental illness or addiction all hours of the day and night.

The online program, called MISTY, was created by Nashville-based physician Scotte Hudsmith to help himself keep track of his elderly father. The program, which mostly has been used at nursing homes and hospitals, allows patients to test their vital signs and send the results remotely to selected people throughout the day. It also helps patients keep track of the medications they are prescribed, order groceries and contact people with similar conditions.

The goal of the program is to curb the numbers of people who have to be readmitted because of skipped medication and also provide accountability for medical providers, said Hudsmith, who owns Parental Health.

"For provider organizations like VBHCS. [MISTY] supports accountable care, boosts efficiency and impacts quality outcomes by helping patients stay focused on their treatments," said Darin Moore, technology director at Parental Health, in a statement.

If a patient doesn't check off the box online to say they have taken their medications, a message is sent to family and doctors to remind the patient. Caregivers can ask for the patient to Web video of them swallowing the pill if needed, said Hudsmith.

VBHCS provides services in 30 Tennessee counties and will be the first company to use the service to help mental health patients, Hudsmith said.

It will be part of a three-year initiative called Connecting My Recovery, which is being funded in part by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The initiative is intended to help people who struggle with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, hepatitis and behavioral disorders.

"We were looking for a solution that would empower our patients to take control of their health and give them access to support resources," said Phyllis Persinger, chief administrative officer at VBHCS.

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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