Docobo Ltd and Tartu University start first trial of unique telemedicine system doc@HOME

Tallinn 09 April 2001Docobo Ltd., an Estonian telehealth company, and the Tartu University Clinic have launched a medical trial involving fifty hypertension patients, with the aim to test the original health monitoring programme doc@HOME. The ability to get feedback from the doctor concerning everyday measurement opens up an entirely new quality in disease management.

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"One of the most important problems in today's health care is the increasing gap between care services and patients who have a higher than average need for constant health monitoring and counselling", explained Docobo CEO Ardo Reinsalu. "As part of the doc@HOME project, patients will be given additional tools for self control and treatment without leaving home, therefore lowering the cost of care."

The first period of the trial will last for 2,5 months. Important symptoms and other health parameters of fifty hypertension patients will be monitored and delivered to doctors using the doc@HOME system during the trial. A unique terminal called Docobo will be used to transfer patient data and to establish a connection with the care provider through regular telephone lines. Among the monitored data are, for example, measurements for blood pressure, ECG, and body weight. In addition, the device allows to ask for subjective patient information such as sleep quality, everyday stress, etc.

According to the Head of the Cardiology Department at the Tartu University Clinic, Dr. Margus Viigimaa, the new system provides a daily overview of the patient's symptoms and thus makes it possible to apply better treatment. "We have a serious interest in the current research project because of the opportunities and potential of telemedicine", stated Dr. Viigimaa. The Hospital of Tartu University is the biggest health care organisation in Estonia where treatment, educational and scientific work are integrated.

The biggest advantage of home health care programmes is the involvement of patients in their treatment process, Ardo Reinsalu emphasised. "Low cost, easy-to-use, and simply understandable interactive monitoring will teach patients how to regulate themselves. Regular symptom monitoring will give the patient a sense of control and allow the medical personnel to stay ahead of acute heart failure or other critical conditions."

The medical trial will last six to twelve months, depending on the results but the first conclusions will be available within four months from now. The Doc@HOME telemedicine project has been fostered and financed also by the European Commission. Additional medical trials will be held in 3 countries of the European Union. Results from those trials will help to complete the system to the level where it can be implemented in several countries as an innovative health care solution.

In January 2000, Docobo signed a contract with the European Commission that will support the system with 1 million Euros. There are nine partners in four countries who are involved with the project, therefore making it easily adaptable into other regions. The project is additionally financed by Docobo Ltd. and partners.

Cardiac diseases are the major cause of death among the elderly population. Employers spend billions of dollars yearly due to temporary work disability caused by those diseases. The European Union has recognised the threat of rapidly increasing health care costs and has indicated doc@HOME as a way to make disease management more efficient.

Docobo Ltd. is a telemedicine company, established by a research company, Curonia Research, with the goal to take better care of citizens while greatly lowering the cost of health care. Docobo applies the unique doc@HOME concept to allow people to take up an active role in the medical treatment process. You can find more news about this project in the VMW February 2001 article Unique doc@HOME patient care concept contracted by the European Commission.


Leslie Versweyveld

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