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Aurora Health Care receives $1.7 million grant focusing on managing heart failure

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Aurora Health Care, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has received a $1.7 million grant that will focus on improving patients’ abilities to manage their heart failure.  The uniqueness of this study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is that it targets home health care patients who are receiving care for congestive heart failure. The primary focus of the study is to look at using Web technology to offer customized computer support for home care of heart patients.

“The study will help us to look at improving an individual patient’s ability to manage their care,” said Patricia Brennan, RN, PhD, UW Moehlman – Bascom Professor of Nursing and  Principal Investigator of the study.

“We know that lifestyle issues can have an impact on our health, and our goal is to provide patients with the resources that enable them to better manage those factors,” added Carolyn Krause, RN, PhD, Vice-President of Clinical Services at Aurora’s Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin.

According to Laura Burke, RN, PhD, Aurora’s Manager of Clinical Research Support and Co-Investigator of the study, “An individual’s lifestyle can contribute to the prospects of being readmitted to the hospital for cardiac problems.  If one’s weight and diet are properly managed, and appropriate medications are used, it can have a positive impact on an individual’s long-term recuperation and recovery.  Home care nurses provide the bridge between hospital and home to help patients learn to self-manage their care needs.”

Under the study, 200 patients receiving home care from the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin (VNA) will receive computers to help them track and manage their weight, diet, medications, vital signs, and symptoms.  During each home visit, the Aurora VNA nurse will review the tracking information with the patient to help them see the benefit to following the treatment plan.  Patients and nurses will use My Aurora, Aurora Health Care's award-winning patient web-site portal, for secure communication. 

A second group of 200 patients will not have the computer technology, but will receive current Aurora best-practice care, printed information and self-management materials through ongoing visits from their home health nurse.

“We want to see if the new technologies can enhance the communication between the patient and home care nurse and lead to healthier outcomes,” said Brennan. 

It is anticipated that the 400 patients who will be a part of the 3 ½ year study will be identified in early 2005.

“We would expect that this effort will help us to better identify additional best practices that can be successfully applied in home health care,” added Krause.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care.  Aurora offers services at sites in more than 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact:  Ron Irwin (414-647-3405)

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