The debate over medical monitoring - FOX 13 News

The debate over medical monitoring

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Ernestine Marshall can't even go to the bathroom without someone knowing.

"I didn't know how closely they were watching me until I received a phone call, and I was like, whoa! Ok!" she said.

The diabetic and MS patient's home is outfitted by insurer, Humana, with sensors that keep track of when she opens her medicine cabinet, her fridge, sleeps, walks, and uses the bathroom.

A break in routine is an early sign of trouble.

"If it becomes unusual, I will get a phone call," she said. "(They say), 'Ms. Marshall, are you alright? Do we need to call your sister?'"

The sensors are monitored by workers at a Humana building in Carillon in Pinellas County, but she also gets a monthly visit from a field agent.

The sensors allow her to live in her own apartment, instead of at an assisted living facility.

"It makes me feel wonderful, to know I'm being monitored, especially living alone," Marshall said.

Tallahassee is debating rules for all kinds of telemedicine. How much can remote doctors charge? When should a webcam exam be allowed? How will Medicaid reimbursement work?

As technology becomes easier and cuts costs, our FOX 13 medical reporter Dr. Joette Giovinco sounds a note of caution.

"I really think it is going to revolutionize medicine in so many ways, but I think there's nothing that can replace the face-to-face," Giovinco said.

In this case, Marshall says knowing she's being watched helps her feel calm, which she hopes will lead to an even longer life.

"If your mind is clear, eventually you're going to feel a little bit healthier," Marshall said.

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