Sunday, April 13, 2008

Technology Empowering Patients

According to Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, and Past President of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), connected health technologies empower patients to take a more active role in managing their health. Dr. Kvedar presented his findings at the 13th annual ATA Conference and Exhibition held in Seattle, Washington on April 6th through April 9th.

He said, “Eleven research studies are being conducted by the Center for Connected Health that demonstrate how successful patients can manage their care and in general improve their overall health. Through a number of ongoing programs, the Center is finding more evidence demonstrating the benefits of connected health for patients, healthcare providers, employers, and payers, as well as for the person who simple wants to stay healthy”.

The Center a division of Partners HealthCare has developed and deployed the Remote Monitoring Data Repository (RMDR) system that is able to store remotely measured and reported patient data in a single scalable data repository. This has resulted in a single integration point for the connected health programs. RMDR also provides a single integration point to the health information systems at Partners. So far, three connected health programs are storing data into the system with more coming online.

The Center is involved in a several studies and projects using remote monitoring:

  • Non-homebound heart failure patients participating in the Connected Cardiac Care program participants were given home telemonitoring equipment to transmit daily vital signs and symptom reports to a telemonitoring nurse. Initial feedback from participants have been overwhelmingly positive with 100% of the patients reporting that the program has helped them stay out of the hospital
  • Patients being monitored for diabetes reported that blood sugar monitoring was most valuable when newly diagnosed, or for patients trying to regain control of their diabetes
  • A reminder system used to improve medication adherences using an electronic pill bottle and desk lamp linked to a pager system showed significant acceptance among participants
  • A randomized controlled trial comparing asynchronous e-visits consisting of online surveys and digital images to manage mild to moderate acne reported that 100 trial subjects were satisfied
  • Three studies have looked at how consumer technology such as the telephone, a pager system, and the internet can help patients adhere to their prescribed medications and maintain an exercise regimen

To see how remote monitoring can help in industry, the Center for Connected Health and EMC Corporation recently launched a new web-based remote monitoring program to help employees fight hypertension. EMC is the first company to participate in using “SmartBeat” which was designed by the Center. The program uses a wireless blood pressure cuff and communicator, and an internet-based feedback system to aid the employees in self managing their high blood pressure.

“Employers are increasingly looking for innovative, consumer-centric approaches to create and maintain a healthy workforce and manage healthcare costs,” said Dr. Kvedar. “Our partnership with EMC is evaluating how simple technologies can help employees manage a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure, and will demonstrate how a web-based remote monitoring program can empower patients to improve their own health.”

The program will also study how a web-based hypertension wellness program can impact health care costs and utilization, such as the number of doctor visits required or the use of prescription medications to manage the condition.