IDEATel study to monitor diabetes patients at home with advanced telemedicine equipment and services

New York 05 October 2000American TeleCare (ATI), a major supplier of home telemedicine programmes, and Gentiva Health Services, North America's leading provider of speciality pharmaceutical and home health care services, have formed a strategic alliance to provide the clinical installation, training and call centre-staffing for the diabetes telemedicine project. Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons received a $28 million grant from the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to study how telemedicine can improve diabetes care. ATI previously announced that it had been chosen to supply the telemedicine equipment and services for this project.

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"We are pleased to form a strategic alliance with Gentiva Health Services, the nation's leading speciality pharmaceutical and home health care provider", stated Thomas M. Rootness, Chief Executive Officer, American TeleCare. "Gentiva's participation will help provide the patients of this study with the best service and telemedicine technology available."

Called the Informatics for Diabetes Education and Telemedicine (IDEATel) project, this study is the largest telemedicine effort ever funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The programme will monitor diabetes patients over a four-year period focusing on the treatment of the medically under-served. Initially, 1500 patients from Northern Manhattan and rural areas of Central and Upstate New York will be enrolled in the project scheduled to begin this autumn.

"An important aspect of this study is addressing the needs of patients who live in areas where specialised care is not easily accessible", stated Dr. Rodney Hornbake, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Gentiva Health Services. "We are honoured to be joining American TeleCare in an effort to demonstrate that telemedicine can help close the gap in medical care by further utilising the home environment."

American TeleCare will supply computers equipped with devices which allow patients to record blood sugar, take pictures of skin and feet, and check the blood pressure in the homes of half of the patients in the study group. This information will then be stored electronically and will be made available to the patients and their primary care physicians. The data will be kept at the New York Presbyterian Hospital's Web-based Clinical Information System (WebCIS). Additionally, the case managers and physicians from the study's clinical group will perform interactive video visits with these patients. The study's other half, or control group, will continue with the care they normally receive from their current providers.

Through its Clinical Business Solutions group, Gentiva will use its expertise in managing high-tech home care environments in order to install American TeleCare's telemedicine equipment in patients' homes, show them how to use it, and trouble-shoot equipment problems from a call centre. The Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons and the SUNY Upstate Medical University will manage the clinical aspects of the project. The goal of the study is to use telemedicine to improve the quality of care, provide early intervention and to facilitate diabetes patients' self-management.

American TeleCare's telemedicine system not only electronically transmits voice, video, and patient medical information over ordinary phone lines, but its devices equally enable patients to download instructions and information relevant to their treatment from a secure Web site. "The audio/visual and Internet features of this technology not only help monitor the patients' medical conditions, but also empowers the patients by allowing more active participation in their own care", commented Rich Abbruscato, the Vice President of Engineering at American TeleCare.

American TeleCare pioneered the concept of home telemedicine in 1993. The company currently markets the AVIVA System, an FDA cleared telemedicine monitoring system which incorporates live audio and video with integrated, electronic medical peripherals to allow a doctor or nurse to conduct remote examinations of patients in their homes. American TeleCare has installed the majority of home telemedicine programmes throughout the entire world, and is considered the industry leader. Headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, American TeleCare is a privately held corporation.

Gentiva Health Services is the leading provider of speciality pharmaceutical and home health care services in North America. With nearly 400 locations in North America, the company equally provides marketing and distribution solutions for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device firms as well as home infusion therapies, health care network management services, and skilled nursing services. In 1999, Gentiva company had approximately $1.5 billion in revenues. More news about the set-up of the IDEATel project is available in the VMW May 2000 article American TeleCare selected to assist in best funded diabetes home telemedicine project ever.


Leslie Versweyveld

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