American TeleCare selected to assist in best funded diabetes home telemedicine project ever

Eden Prairie 18 March 2000American TeleCare Inc. has been chosen to supply telemedicine equipment and services for a $28 million federally funded diabetes home telemedicine initiative, the largest telemedicine grant ever awarded by the federal government. The project, led by Steven Shea, MD, is a collaborative effort of the Joslin Diabetes Center of SUNY Health Science Center, the American Diabetes Association, the United States Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), Arnot Olean General Hospitals in Olean, New York, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Watertown, New York.

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Dr. Shea is the Hamilton Southworth Professor of Medicine and Public Health, and Director of the Division of General Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The diabetes project will monitor patients from New York City and upstate New York using American TeleCare's telemedicine systems. The objective is to utilise telemedicine to improve quality of care, to provide early intervention, as well as to facilitate patients' self-management. The patient stations provided by American TeleCare will not only electronically send medical data over ordinary phone lines, but will equally provide a connection to a special Web site allowing patients to access instruction and information relevant to their treatment.

"The technology will work with a single ordinary telephone line from the patient's home. The audio/visual and Web features serve not only to monitor the patients' medical conditions, but also to empower them", states Rich Abbruscato, American TeleCare's Vice President of Engineering. According to Dr. Shea, the programme director, the organisers interviewed several home telemedicine companies as they were putting together their proposal for the telemedicine grant. Thus, it became apparent that American TeleCare was the most logical choice, as their experience and their approach to technology, implementation and service set them apart from the others. The project team is very confident of the decision to work with them, as Dr. Shea states.

Also other industry observers expressed their enthusiasm. "American TeleCare is the ideal technology partner for the diabetes project", as observed by Bonnie Britton, MSN, RN, C, who is the director of the home telecare programme for University Home Care of Greenville, North Carolina, one of the largest and most successful home telemedicine programmes in the country. "Many people have the misconception that the most crucial aspect of home telemedicine is the technology. The technology of course is important. However, even more critical are the clinical and implementation aspects. Having been in the industry since its infancy, American TeleCare has a thorough understanding of these issues, and as a result will be able to successfully guide the diabetes project through them."

Comments Lisa Remington, publisher of the bi-monthly health care journal, The Remington Report, "This project, especially the fact that it is HCFA financed, forms a strong validation for telemedicine as an increasingly accepted means of care delivery. Those of us that have been tracking telemedicine know the benefits are there for patients, caregivers, providers, and the health care system as a whole. This ushers in a new era for telemedicine visibility and major acceptance in health care. Everyone wins."

The project is especially targeted at the treatment of medically under-served urban and rural diabetics. According to Joleyn Hansen, Regional Business Manager for American TeleCare and manager of the company's role in the diabetes project, an important aspect of the project is addressing the needs of medically under-served patients who tend to be of low financial resources and those who live in areas where specialised care is not easily accessible. Home telemedicine will help reduce the gap in access to medical care.

American TeleCare Inc. pioneered the concept of home telemedicine in 1993. The company currently markets the AVIVA system, which is an FDA cleared telemedicine monitoring system, incorporating both live audio and video with integrated, electronic medical peripherals to allow a physician or nurse to conduct remote examinations of patients in their homes. American TeleCare has installed the majority of home telemedicine programmes throughout the world, and is considered the industry leader. Headquartered in Eden Prairie, American TeleCare is a privately held corporation. More details on American TeleCare are available in the VMW April 2000 article Technology for first home telecare project in Canada implemented by American TeleCare.


Leslie Versweyveld

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