Sunday, June 13, 2010

Telemedicine Helping Students

NIH awarded a five year $2.2 million grant to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) to explore whether school-based telemedicine sessions can help students in rural areas control their asthma. As the most common chronic childhood disease, asthma disproportionally affects minority and low income children and is especially difficult to treat children living a distance from specialists.

The “Reducing Asthma Disparities in Arkansas” (RADAR) research team will examine 12 school districts in rural east Arkansas counties, by placing video conferencing systems in six of the school districts to enable the recruited students with asthma to have regular education appointments with specialists in Little Rock. The remaining schools will act as control sites. The RADAR study will include three years of school-based interventions with each site hosting the video conferencing sessions for a year.

Students ages 7 to 14 will learn how to recognize initial symptoms of an asthma attack, the importance of taking medications as prescribed, and ways to reduce their risk for complications. They will take part in the video conferencing education during non-instruction periods such as in study hall or during recess.

During the sessions, the students will be able to speak directly with ACHRI asthma specialists so that their questions can be answered and the physicians will be able to track their progress. Parents will also be heavily involved and attend courses to learn similar concepts as well as effective methods to use to discuss their children’s asthma with doctors.

Investigators will work cooperatively with the students’ primary care providers, with ACHRI asthma specialists, and provide disease management recommendations based on published national asthma guidelines.

Preliminary studies to support the project were funded in part by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute and the UAMS Arkansas Center for Health Disparities. The UAMS Center for Distance Health also provides training support, technological resources, and telemedicine session coordination.

In other news, CompuMed is partnering with the nonprofit California School Health Centers Association (CSHC) to promote electrocardiogram telemedicine technologies for use in the school health centers throughout California. CSHC represents more than 150 school health centers serving more than 800 primary and secondary schools throughout the state.

The new partnership calls for CompuMed to provide ECG equipment and interpretive over-reads for screenings. On their part, CSHC will promote CompuMed’s ECG telemedicine technologies via their website, e-newsletters, and at their statewide and regional conferences, as well as through other initiatives to be developed.

“A student’s athlete’s heart attack is a shocking event and CompuMed is committed to reducing the likelihood of these tragic events. In communities where ECGs with pediatric cardiology over-reads are performed on all students prior to athletic participation, the incidence of sudden cardiac deaths among student athletes has been reduced by more than 90 percent,” said CompuMed’s lead cardiologist David M. Frisch, M.D.

While the recession has caused many school districts to rethink healthcare spending, CompuMed has made the equipment, software, and over-reads affordable for school clinics. The equipment to perform ECGs is provided free of charge even though it typically costs about $3,500. Each CompuMed over-read by a skilled pediatric cardiologist is priced at $15, though typically priced in the marketplace from $20 to $150 or more.

To help children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Kansas City Center for Anxiety Treatment are conducting a study using the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) to compare the effectiveness when help for OCD is administered in person or by using interactive televideo.

Generally clinicians who have obtained specialized training in OCD assessment and treatment generally practice in urban specialty clinics causing shortages particularly in rural areas. This inequity in provider distribution magnifies the problems of misdiagnosis and inadequate therapy for OCD.

This study involves doing three assessments on three separate days for participating adolescents and parents. This includes an initial assessment to confirm a diagnosis of OCD using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule from DSM-IV followed by an evaluation using CY-BOCS both in person and by using interactive televideo.