App helps transplant patients check in with doctors from home

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NEW YORK (CBS) A new, innovative program is helping lung transplant patients do most of their monitoring after surgery from the comfort of their homes. Doctors say the program has big benefits.

About 45 patients are currently participating in the remote monitoring and telemedicine program.

Raymond Wykerd, 72, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was put on a waiting list for a lung transplant. Eventually, doctors at NYU Langone Health found a match.

"They took me into surgery. I woke up. I felt like a new man," Wykerd said.

After transplant surgery, constant monitoring is necessary to ensure patients are recovering well. That often means many trips back to the hospital. But thanks to an app on his phone, Wykerd is now able to do much of that close follow-up at home. The technology allows him to have regularly scheduled visits with his doctors by video chat. Wykerd checks his vitals like his blood pressure, temperature and lung capacity. The results are automatically sent to his doctors in real-time every day.

Dr. Luis Angel, the chair of lung transplantation at NYU Langone Health, says they are looking for any changes in the lung capacity or a marker that there may be an infection or rejection. Angel says those are two critical areas to watch. He says a constant connection with patients who are far away can also save time and money.

"We have the possibility to find issues earlier which is vital," Angel said.

Wykerd says he loves the convenience of the technology and the reassurance it brings.

"It's given me a lot more peace of mind that I can now be in contact with the team at the drop of a pin," he said.

He says he hopes more transplant patients can benefit the way he has.