Patient Advocacy: Mark’s Story of Empowerment During Surgery Recovery
Many of us often receive LinkedIn connection requests, messages, and solicitations, and they bring about various emotions — from interest, to excitement, and sometimes even annoyance. A couple of weeks ago, Carium’s Chairman and Co-Founder, Mike Hatfield, received a LinkedIn message that truly sparked joy. The message was from Mark Reid, Chief Revenue Officer at Brilent, and it said, “Hi Michael, I’m a recent patient and used Carium. I would like to connect...”
Mike is incredibly humble, but has a variety of professional accomplishments in his executive career. Mike and Mark chatted on the phone and we invited Mark to participate in our Patient Advocacy program. Upon talking to Mark, Mike said, “Having this type of impact on a person, is one of my greatest professional accomplishments.”
Carium established its program to regularly bring in people that have been patients, to first-hand share their unfiltered experience. Their stories inspire our team to continue to improve, innovate, and develop with the patient at the center. Here is Mark’s story about being an active participant in his recovery, empowered by data, technology, and the connection to his care team.
"I feel much worse than the test results show…"
About five years ago, Mark’s doctor heard a heart murmur during his annual wellness visit. Three years later, he started to feel more sluggish and they found the heart murmur was more pronounced. Mark was sent for further testing with a cardiologist and found his aortic valve wasn’t operating optimally but there was no immediate cause for concern — based on the examination and test results. He went on with his life and was being monitored every six months.
Mark was feeling a drastic change in his well-being. This is when Mark decided to also begin tracking himself. He designed a mile and a half route around his neighborhood and he’d walk it every day. Mark used his Apple watch to capture data including: steps, heart rate, and time, and documented how he felt in a notebook. With time, a slight incline on his daily route felt steeper and steeper — eventually it became so difficult for Mark to climb that he nicknamed it Mount Kilimanjaro. “In the beginning, I could climb it slowly managing the pain, then with rest stops, until the mountain was unattainable,” shared Mark.
Mark presented his data to his doctor and based on his data, he was referred to a heart valve specialist at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. The specialist performed a cardiac catheterization and found his aortic valve, and two of his arteries were over 95% blocked with calcium. He was immediately scheduled for open heart surgery the following week.
During the pre-surgical process, Mark was introduced to Atrium Health’s Perfect Care, a 90-day periprocedural care program that would support him through his cardiac surgery and recovery period. The day before going in for surgery, Mark received the Carium digital health kit in the mail. Within a few minutes, Mark was able to download the Carium app and sync the connected devices — a bluetooth connected blood pressure cuff, weight scale, and an activity tracker.
“I’m confident I could send the digital health kit to my 81 year-old father, and he’d be able to get it all setup himself,” stated Mark.
An Active Participant in His Recovery, Virtually Supported by his Care Team
Once discharged from the hospital, Mark followed the instructions provided to him by the Perfect Care team — via the mobile app. He took his blood pressure readings and stepped on his digital scale daily at home. His steps, sleep, and resting heart rate were automatically shared with his Clinical Nurse Navigator, Shannon Crotwell, RN BSN CCRN. He also sent her images of his wound from the incision, asked questions, read learning content about the recovery process, and weekly they also connected via video. All of this was done from a single telehealth platform.
Mark was also provided a home care nurse, but after the first visit, he let the care team know he preferred the convenience of connecting virtually with Shannon.
In the first week post heart surgery, a person’s weight is an important metric to monitor because a sudden increase is often a sign of fluid retention. As time goes on, the activity metrics are a good indicator of a successful recovery.
The ability to see his data, coupled by the consistent virtual management from the Perfect Care team made a big difference for Mark. “Having the data in front of me helped me know I was okay,” he remarked. “It also gave my wife peace-of-mind knowing I was being monitored and cared for virtually by my care team. It was like having the ‘What to Expect, When Your Expecting Guide’, but catered to post heart surgery.”
Now, four months later, Mark just walked 2.31 miles — and that hill is no longer dubbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
Stories like Mark’s inspire and motivate our team to continue on our mission to digitally transform healthcare.