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App Or Appointment: Community Health Care Clinic Pilots New Tech

Man sits in front of mic
Charlie Schlenker
Community Health Care Clinic director Mike Romagnoli.

In an increasingly busy world, there is one constant: advances in technology making life easier.

The Community Health Care Clinic in Normal, which partners with local hospitals and colleges, understands that its patients cannot always make room in their schedules for regular visits. Director Mike Romagnoli says his clinic will test a smart phone app that will remedy this problem.

“The app is basically a mobile remote chronic disease manager,” he said on WGLT’s Sound Ideas. “But it’s two-way communication between office and patient, and we are the first free clinic in the country to pilot that.”

The app, called Perry Health, will allow those with chronic illness unable to get to the clinic a way to quickly receive adjustments to their blood pressure medications, for instance.

Romagnoli said the app can do simple things like remind you to take your medication but also features disease-specific functions customized to the patient’s needs.

The app provides the service for free in exchange for clinic data that will help tweak the app before it goes public.

“They will have all of our data,” Romagnoli said, “but we don’t have to analyze it—they’ll do all that for us in terms of improved outcomes because they need that data too. Based on projections, in a regular office that bills one nurse in the course of a year with 100 patients, (it) can generate a half a million dollars with this app.”

Despite that, the Community Health Care Clinic won’t see that income because that is what would be made if they billed an insurance company. Instead, the clinic wants to use the app for grant writing.

“These days grants for general operating are getting harder to come by,” he says. “This app will be great for outcomes for the patients but also for us to be innovators.”

Romagnoli said he is optimistic that the test period will lead to positive results and, eventually, full implementation.

“I envision after the test period we will roll it out and offer it to every patient,” Romagnoli says. “We can’t force them to use it, but it will be offered as something in our suite of services because then it becomes as simple as a to-do list.”

Within three months he believes they will have the data necessary to say whether Perry Health was a success or not.

“Patient engagement will be a major success indicator on this one—whether patients are comfortable with two-way communication and will take advantage of that.”

The Perry Health app will go into service in September.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
Sean Newgent is a senior journalism major at Illinois State University. He's an intern for the GLT newsroom.
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