Corky LaFleur feels better and returns to the hospital less often after becoming part of the Medtronic Care Management Services program

75 year old Corky LaFleur has always been an active, independent sort.

“I’d rather do this than be at home. I don’t like being at home. I’ve got to move it,“ he said.

But that independence was threatened a few years ago, by heart problems and diabetes that repeatedly sent him to the hospital.

Reluctant at first, he finally agreed to join the Medtronic Care Management Services program.

“It gives me confidence to go back and do things. You feel so much better. And a person like me, I’ve always been active. Now I’m more active,” he said.

Every morning, Corky steps onto a specially designed Medtronic scale, which asks questions about his weight and other health issues.

His answers are transmitted directly to Helen Deloney, his personal, registered Care Management nurse.

That data allows Helen to spot issues sooner, and help head off problems before they become too serious.

She can monitor hundreds of patients through a care management system, rather than dozens through in-person nursing.

Her patients generally stay healthier and require fewer return trips to the hospital.

All part of the changing medical landscape, that’s beginning to reward doctors and hospitals for healthier patients, who don’t require return trips.

Medtronic’s rapidly growing care management technology now serves 95,000 patients in the United States.

Medtronic views it as a partnership.

Working together with hospitals and other partners to get patients healthy, and keep them healthy, while taking cost out of the healthcare system.

“There’s no silver bullet to chronic disease management,” said Jeffrey Joliet, VP of US Sales for Medtronic Care Management Services. “It does really take an overall partnership with technology, with clinical expertise, with nursing support, and with quite honestly, experience. And it’s those components that really make chronic disease management work,” he said.

Perhaps nowhere does it work better than at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, one of the first to join the Medtronic care management team.

“I think from the beginning it’s been a partnership,” said Dr. Mark Stampehl, who runs the program for Prairie Heart Institute  at St. John’s.

“It’s not as if we’ve just been buying a service or contracting for a tool. We’ve actually worked with Medtronic and the company as it started to develop the tool and to refine how it’s used.”

Dr. Stampehl and his team registered 850 patients over a recent three year period, and followed them closely for months after they left the hospital.

“And what we can say is that they all, almost universally, register a higher quality of life as a result of care through the program,” he said.

It has worked so well St. John’s is expanding the service to high-risk outpatients, hoping to help keep them out of the emergency room, or the hospital, altogether.

“It’s a huge number that we really don’t have our arms around yet. I think we’ll all be surprised at this time next year about how many patients we’ll actually be able to serve this way,” Stampehl said.

Case studies show patients like Corky often cut their return trips to the emergency room by 50  to 65 percent.

Corky also credits the personal bond with Helen for helping him exercise more, and watch what he eats.

And every morning, that step on the scale, is like a daily doctor’s checkup.

And another step toward the future of healthcare.