Joanne Grunerud was always painfully out of breath. A persistent tightness had taken over her chest, making it hard to breathe. She had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes blocked airflow from the lungs.

People with COPD require regular checkups at the hospital to monitor their health. For anyone, these visits to the doctor can be tiring. For a woman in her eighties who has difficulty breathing, those trips are exhausting.

However, thanks to an innovative program called TEC4Home, funded partly by philanthropy, Joanne does not have to travel to the hospital every week. TEC4Home allows her to perform checkups from the comfort of her own home, sending information via a touchscreen tablet to her doctors and nurses at Vancouver General Hospital.

“It was really beneficial, because it got me into a pattern of checking my health — every day I checked my blood pressure, weighed myself and measured my blood oxygen levels,” she says. “And I didn’t have to go into the hospital for that.”

The comfort of home

TEC4Home is an empowering, patient-centred, home-health monitoring program designed to help patients transition from hospital to home. With the help of TELUS Health, TEC4Home installs novel technology in a patient’s home that can monitor details of their health such as blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.

“I was always interested in how we can help patients to safely transition from the hospital to the home and how we can monitor them once they are home,” explains Dr. Kendall Ho, who started the program two years ago.

“We have results saying TEC4Home decreases the number of hospital visits and increases the quality of life at home for patients,” he states.

Lessening the burden

Sadly, the burden of chronic disease is increasing in our community as many patients seek help in emergency rooms (ERs) — this leads to overcrowding in ERs and rising health care costs. TEC4Home lessens this burden, significantly reducing the number of trips to the hospital.

Looking to grow

More people across the province could benefit  from the TEC4Home program. It was recently approved to expand to 22 communities across three health authorities.

“We want to expand this program to help more people like Joanne across the province,” says Dr. Ho. “But we need fundraising dollars to do that.”

Help programs like TEC4Home empower more patients like Joanne.