Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Health Technology Efforts

California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 2010 signed legislation funding a telehealth initiative under Proposition 1D (2006) authorizing $200 million for capital improvements. The legislation helps to expand medical education programs emphasizing telemedicine technologies at the University of California Medical School campuses. The plan is to provide the facilities and the state-of-the-art equipment needed to expand the use of telemedicine not only on the campuses but also across the state.

A new telemedicine building funded in part by the Proposition 1D measure is now in use at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. This new telemedicine facility includes an interactive televideo center and a clinical simulation laboratory and skills center. Students can use the digitally controlled full body simulators in the operating room and trauma room settings, plus use the televideo room to see medicine practiced at distant locations in real-time and then be able to communicate with clinical instructors.

In another effort, a UCLA-led consortium at five University of California Medical Schools plus Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles received $9.9 million from AHRQ to research the use of wireless and telephone care management to reduce hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

The three year grant “Variations in Care: Comparing Heart Failure Care Transition Intervention Effects”, with funding under AHRQ’s “Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness” (CHOICE) program will examine managing the inpatient to outpatient care using not only the telephone, but also examine the same transition using wireless remote monitors and telephones.

Heart failure patients have high rates of hospital readmissions, and a critical window for preventing readmissions as the patient transitions from the inpatient to outpatient setting, reports Dr. Michael Ong, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the grant’s principal investigator.

A previous study showed that six month mortality rates were lower for elderly Medicare heart failure patients hospitalized at centers that used more healthcare resources, as compared with hospitals that used fewer resources. The new funding seeks to improve these outcomes even more using innovations that require less intensive care resources.