Georgetown University Medical Center to study telemedicine's impact on heart disease management

Brookfield 01 December 2000HomMed LLC's Home Monitoring System has been chosen by Georgetown University Medical Center for use in a study to determine best practices for treating congestive heart failure patients. The HomMed System allows physicians and nurse care managers to monitor the condition of chronically ill patients in their homes. It is anticipated that the study will soon be approved by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which is Medicare's regulatory arm, for use in the Medicare Co-ordinated Care Demonstration programme, created as a result of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act.

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Phil Beauchene, who is Executive Director of the programme at Georgetown, stated: "The Medicare Co-ordinated Care Demonstration programme is intended to identify care management systems which will help improve the quality of care Medicare recipients receive while reducing costs. State-of-the-art technology will form a critical element in our programme to optimise clinical outcomes, satisfaction and quality of life for Medicare patients. Ultimately, the programme will also help establish reimbursement standards for such technologies so their use can become widespread."

James Welsh, M.D., MBA, and Principal Investigator in the study, explained why Georgetown selected HomMed's Home Monitoring System over all other telemedicine systems available for the study. "There were a number of qualities which made the HomMed System very suitable for this study. The system addresses the fundamental clinical questions which are often raised in treating congestive heart failure patients. Alternative units measure the objective data, but fail to collect subjective information, namely on how the patient feels, fatigue levels, etc. The HomMed System collects all this data, which is crucial to managing patients with congestive heart failure."

The HomMed Home Monitoring System is a user-friendly, hospital grade device that collects real time, vital sign data automatically from the comfort of a patient's home. The system takes approximately three minutes to collect clinical data including heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, weight, temperature, blood glucose levels and lung function. The system was given the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510k Class II status approval. This is the FDA's highest approval rating for non-invasive, medical grade devices.

The HomMed Home Monitoring System consists of two different components: the HomMed Sentry and the HomMed Observer. The HomMed Sentry is an unobtrusive, hospital grade device which stays in the patient's home. Each morning, a friendly voice prompt alerts the patient that it is time to take his or her vital signs and guides the patient through the process. With just a few keystrokes, the system collects the patient's objective vital signs as well as the subjective quality of life information. The data is sent via digital, wireless technology to the HomMed Observer for clinical evaluation.

The HomMed Observer, a workstation operating on an NT Windows platform, tracks up to 500 patients. It details each patient's vital signs daily for the clinician to review and analyse. The patient's data is stored and can also be trended over a rolling six- to twelve-month period. The Observer displays the patient data in a well-organised format, with each patient's medication and contact information available for emergency phone calls.

The primary care physician sets individual vital sign parameters for each patient. The Observer alerts clinicians if a patient's data goes outside those parameters, thus allowing clinicians to identify and immediately treat any problems before they become serious. Clinicians are also alerted if a patient forgets to collect vital signs or is late in doing so.

Dr. Welsh anticipates that the study will ultimately assist clinicians in better managing congestive heart failure patients, both clinically and economically. He noted several aspects of the HomMed System that set it apart from other telemedicine devices:

  • The system's ease of use for patients and clinicians
  • The Sentry's friendly voice prompt, which limits potential for patient intimidation
  • The Sentry's two modes of data transfer: via digital wireless and traditional phone lines
  • HomMed's professional staff and understanding of disease management

"Home monitoring is critical in managing congestive heart failure patients", Dr. Welsh stated. "HomMed offers a fine solution to meet this goal. With daily monitoring, clinicians can observe which patients' conditions are deteriorating and which patients are doing well. The quality of life benefits are also significant. Patients have a sense of security when they feel a health care professional is watching them in their homes."

Located in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, HomMed LLC is dedicated to offer innovative as well as cost effective solutions to disease state management. The company was founded to enable clinicians to improve quality of care and enhance quality of life for chronically ill patients while reducing health care costs to individuals and to the public. HomMed's Home Monitoring System has been shown to reduce emergency room visits and hospital admissions by helping clinicians identify and appropriately treat decompensating patients before their conditions become serious.


Leslie Versweyveld

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