John Pennebaker, 91, shows a hint of annoyance as a robotic voice urges him to check his blood pressure while he still is in the process of adjusting the cuff.
"I'm not ready," Pennebaker says, as if the machine might answer back.
The monitor Pennebaker is using in his Lexington kitchen doesn't talk back, but it verbally guides heart patients through a daily round of health checks that can keep them well and out of the hospital.
Pennebaker is one of seven patients of Baptist Health Homecare using the monitoring device, which registers blood pressure, weight and oxygen levels and is being used by heart patients at risk for returning to the hospital.
•At-risk moms get special care from UK doctors via remote ultrasound program
•Telehealth innovations make several forms of medicine easier to receive
"The first time I used it I was impressed," said Pennebaker, who owned Pennebaker & Sons, a clothing wholesaler in Lexington for decades.
Every morning Pennebaker sits at the counter in his kitchen and goes through the five- to 10-minute process of checking his vital signs.
It is a respite from having someone prod and poke him, he said.
"I've fooled with doctors and nurses until I am about done," said Pennebaker.
Baptist Health has tried digital monitoring systems before, but previous efforts proved too difficult to use, said Rebecca Cartright, executive director for Baptist Homecare and Hospice. This monitor uses red, green and yellow lights and voice direction to guide patients through their daily checkups. It is also small and doesn't require a land-line telephone.
Its use currently is targeted at patients who have been discharged from the hospital recently, have frequent emergency visits or are at risk for going back to the hospital because of heart failure or lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Under perfect circumstances, Cartright said, a nurse might be able to visit patients like Pennebaker three or four times a week. But with the monitor, patients are visited just once a week but can get a checkup every day. The patient is also in control of when the checkup takes place and doesn't have to adapt to the sometimes changing schedules of the health worker.
If the monitor detects a concerning change, home health is notified and the patient will be instructed to call their doctor's office. The next step is determined after a phone conversation.
For example, the monitor registers a daily weight. Unexpected weight gain can be an indication of troublesome fluid accumulating around the heart or relatively benign water retention.
A conversation sparked by the monitor's findings could determine whether that weight gain was due to a high-sodium Chinese meal and the sign of a potentially serious problem, Cartright explained.
"I think it give patients peace of mind," she said.
For Pennebaker, who frequently uses an iPad to keep in touch with friends and do research, adapting to the technology was easy. It also provided a solution to a vexing problem. He had been monitoring his blood pressure but was unable to keep track of his weight because he couldn't make out the numbers on the scale.
Cartright expects that within five or 10 years such a digital assistant will be run-of-the-mill care not only for heart patients but those coping with a number of health challenges.
The monitor also is being used by Baptist Health facilities in Madisonville, Paducah and Louisville.
As for Pennebaker, he's happy to hear "Good Morning" from his monitor. But, just to be safe, he backs up the computer records by writing the results in a notebook.