Westchester County’s TIPS program – or Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors – has been selected for a 2016 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award, County Executive announced today. The award comes as TIPS marks a major milestone, providing its 20,000th monitoring service to one of the more than 600 seniors participating in seven sites throughout Westchester.
“TIPS empowers seniors be active partners in their own health care,” Astorino said. “Our goal is to help them manage their own conditions, avoid emergency situations and reduce unplanned hospital visits. Skyrocketing healthcare costs require us to be innovative, and TIPS is at the forefront. We like to say that TIPS is ‘high-tech and high-touch’ because it combines the best of both worlds for the benefit of our seniors.”
The NACo Achievement Awards are given for innovative program implementation in more than 20 categories, ranging from arts and historic preservation to health and volunteerism. The award will be presented at the 81st NACo Annual Conference and Exposition in Long Beach, California from July 22-25.
Launched in May 2014, TIPS is a groundbreaking combination of health services, social services and intergenerational workforce development. The program is geared towards seniors age 60 and older who are low-income and have multiple chronic health conditions. The core of the program combines three key elements:
- Clinical screening of blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels and weight at least once a week, the results of which are monitored remotely and discussed at each session.
- A complete benefits assessment to make sure seniors are aware of the social programs available, such as nutrition assistance, caregiver support and chronic disease self-management programs.
- Hands-on, intergenerational case management from a network of graduate student nurses, social work students and undergraduate volunteers from throughout Westchester.
Funded by a three-year grant of $1.4 million from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation with additional support from Westchester County, the program is available at senior sites in White Plains, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Mount Pleasant. A recent $150,000 grant from the AARP Foundation has resulted in two additional senior housing sites in Ossining and Port Chester as well as additional services for the iTIPS program, such as FitBit activity trackers. The grants also include program services in Scranton, Penn., which has adopted many of the practices spearheaded in Westchester.
Mae Carpenter, Commissioner of the Department of Senior Programs and Services, said TIPS is “truly a community partnership” and a first of its kind nationwide.
“We are the first in the country to combine telehealth remote participant vital signs monitoring with traditional social services for seniors and support services for their caregivers, along with chronic disease self-management programs and intergenerational technology education,” Carpenter said. “We have evidence that these services improve the health of our seniors and reduce health care costs.”
By encouraging seniors to be proactive about their health, and by teaching them to self-manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the goal is not only to improve health and well-being, but also to reduce the number of emergency situations and unplanned hospital visits. Ultimately, this will reduce the financial burden on seniors, caregivers and taxpayers.
A study by David A. Lindeman, CEO of the Center for Technology and Aging, found that for every $1 invested in remote monitoring, up to $1.30 was saved in just the first year due to a reduction in hospitalization rates and a reduction in the number of home care visits required per patient.
One the larger TIPS sites, with over 80 participants in the program, reports that the number of ambulance calls to their residence has dropped from an average of eight per month prior to the program to less than two per month. The monitoring has also been invaluable in providing “early warning” health information, thereby reducing health emergencies and hospital admissions.
“The TIPS program is one of the best services we have ever offered at the Hugh Doyle Senior Center,” said Phillis Maucieri, Executive Director of the New Rochelle Office for the Aging. “When it comes to good health, prevention is so important. With the TIPS program monitoring weekly blood pressure, oxygen and weight levels, I strongly believe trips to the ER and MDs have been reduced. Our seniors also enjoy the interaction with the student technicians. It’s an opportunity for intergenerational dialogue, which leads to mutual respect and understanding. Every senior center should have a TIPS program.”
TIPS was initially piloted with Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems and Vital Care Services, a privately held telehealth provider. The success of the pilot resulted in expanding the program, which continues to thrive and grow throughout Westchester.
In addition to the benefits for seniors, the intergenerational opportunities were expanded to include students from many area colleges. These students provide education about DSPS programing, and along with the telehealth technicians, they receive workforce training including how to use the monitoring equipment and software, HIPAA compliance laws regarding confidentiality, and sensitivity training on interacting with seniors.
“Any way you look at it, TIPS is an outstanding and truly innovative program that I am so proud to have in Westchester,” Astorino said. “This is part of what makes Westchester smart for seniors.”
To learn more about TIPS, please contact Colette Phipps at or (914) 813-6441 or visit www.westchestergov.com/seniors.