For William Van Winkle, every morning begins with a routine check of his vitals, but he doesn’t have to travel very far to complete it.

“It’s like having a nurse in your back pocket,” Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle is one of 148 patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management Program at Frederick Memorial Hospital that allows for high-risk chronic diseases to be monitored and tracked using a tablet. 

“[My doctor is able] to keep a close eye on my weight and my oxygen levels and my blood pressure from afar. It’s sort of like having the nurses here, except I do the work,” Van Winkle joked.

Van Winkle was diagnosed with carotid heart disease in 2017 and since then, he’s had to keep track of his vitals, which involves using Bluetooth biometrics devices provided by the hospital free of charge.

“Everybody knows if you have to have to go to the doctors, it’s always a pain in the butt. It’s been helpful to have somebody out there,” Van Winkle said.

Team leader for the program, Lisa Hogan, says the program ensures clinicians keep an eye on patients from the comfort of their homes and helps build independence in patient’s ability to manage their conditions.

But weekly check-in calls, Hogan says, helps to build a relationship.

“It’s not just about the monitoring, it’s the whole package. It’s the fact that we know the patients, we engage with the patients, they engage with us,” Hogan explained.

Hogan says a study done by the hospital in July evaluated patients six months before and after enrollment in the program. The study found that participating patient’s re-admissions dropped by 89 percent and visits to the emergency department dropped by 49 percent.

Officials say 50 more tablets have been acquired for the program and will allow for patient participation to reach 200.