Omaha-based telecommunications firm West Corp. will work with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Gary and Mary West Health Institute to find ways to automate patient care outside of hospitals.
The goal is to provide feedback and guidance to patients and and alert care coordinators before health issues escalate into problems.
“Health care lags behind other service industries that use customer-friendly smart technologies,” said Dr. Jeffrey Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs at the Vanderbilt med center, in a Thursday press release. “By leveraging the strengths of our three organizations, we hope to evaluate new ways to connect patients and clinicians to the right resources.”
West Corp. already works with health care providers by, for example, sending reminders to people about their dental appointments or the need to refill their prescriptions, said Dave Pleiss, a West Corp. spokesman. Starting next year, he said, the three entities will study other ways to use technology to help patients.
Pleiss said data from patient-monitoring devices could be transmitted automatically or be something that a patient could report over the phone via an interactive voice response system.
The institute is funded by Gary and Mary West, former Omahans who now live in San Diego. The two are considered pioneers in telemarketing for their work building WATS Marketing of America, which was sold in 1980 to First Data Resources, and later West Corp.
The institute's mission is to conduct medical research aimed at developing new technologies to lower the cost of health care. An early success was the Sense4Baby fetal monitor, which wirelessly transmits information about high-risk pregnancies to health professionals, eliminating the need for tests.