For companies and institutions dealing with remote patient monitoring, it is CyberCare everywhere

Boynton Beach 26 June 2001The month of June has turned out to be very busy for Cyber-Care. Successful agreements have been made with Fonemed, Frontier Medical Inc., and the Wound Technology Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of PodiCare Services Inc. Fonemed will utilise the CyberCare System to enhance medical services currently provided by its national call centre. Frontier Medical has selected the company as its telehealth technology partner to conduct clinical pharmaceutical trials in underserved, non-urban settings. And the Wound Technology Network has just started implementation of a novel wound care programme using the CyberCare System. In addition, Cyber-Care presented the interim results of a pilot study with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, applying the Electronic HouseCall (EHC) family of products for 21 Medicaid patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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Fonemed uses communications technology to provide individuals with around-the-clock telephone or Web-based access to health information, advice, products, and services through its North American call centre. The CyberCare System, including the EHC family of products, the CyberCare 24 Network and the Cyber HealthManager, will be installed to monitor patients managed at home while under Fonemed's watch.

An initial deployment of up to ten EHC units consisting of EHC models 100, 350, and 600, is scheduled to begin in July, in order to fully test integration and operation considerations before a national roll-out. It is anticipated that the initial phase will last 90 days. At the successful conclusion of the initial roll-out, Fonemed plans to implement a minimum of 100 EHC units.

"Our alliance with Cyber-Care opens a new era in telehealth", commented Ken Bleakley, president and CEO of Fonemed. "It gives Registered Nurses (RN) in our medical call centre accredited by URAC, the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, the best monitoring systems available to better manage and advise patients remotely, 24 hours a day." Mr. Bleakley added: "Through the EHC family of products, RNs will be able to remotely measure and monitor patients' vital signs such as blood pressure, heart and lung sounds, blood oxygen levels, blood sugar levels, body temperature, pulse, and body weight."

Frontier Medical will apply the CyberCare System to monitor participants in various studies to be sponsored by prominent pharmaceutical companies. Patients will be selected using standard inclusion criteria established by the pharmaceutical companies, and the trials will be protocol driven. Results will be published upon gathering data at completion of pilot. Frontier Medicine is dedicated to developing a series of e-based programmes that will extend the reach of clinical, research, and educational services to the non-urban health professional and patient. Frontier Medicine is being led by two psychiatrists with extensive experience in clinical care, research, telemedicine as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Mikel Thomas, M.D., president of Frontier Medicine, stated that his company will be developing and formally testing the use of Cyber-Care's technology to expand the reach of clinical trial programmes into underserved, non-urban settings. "Rural populations have long been neglected in receiving cutting-edge medical treatments and access to clinical research", as Dr. Mikel Thomas noted. "As a psychiatrist with extensive experience in clinical care and research, I believe that this programme provides a very exciting opportunity to expand care opportunities and efficiencies of the clinical development process."

Initially, Frontier will place the first monitoring stations in Kansas City, but has plans to expand to ten additional sites during the next 12 months. The trial will primarily involve the EHC 400 and 600 models. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to have a group such as Frontier demonstrate the benefits of our system", stated Michael E. Lemnitzer, vice president of business development for Cyber-Care. "Their experience in this field is very impressive and the results of their studies could have a highly beneficial impact on how health care is provided to rural areas, not only in the United States but around the world."

The Wound Technology Network (WTN) programme, initiated as part of WTN's Network Agreement with Humana, takes advantage of the complete range of services offered through the CyberCare System for its participating patients. The programme also includes the use of Solutions Wound Care software that WTN has licensed under an agreement with Applied Home Telemedicine of Barrington, Illinois.

According to Hollywood, Florida-based WTN, initially 14 clinics have been identified to participate in this programme, utilising the EHC 600 and 400 units. Two wound care clinics have been monitoring patients for a month and show preliminary improved clinical outcomes. Three more clinics have connectivity, with EHC units being installed. Nine additional clinics are targeted for installation by July 1, 2001. A total of 22 operational clinics are planned for the year-end. Each clinic is expected to support a minimum of 20 patients per week.

"By bringing what has been traditionally expensive hospital-based care to the community, we can greatly improve the healing and interaction with our patients, while saving the payer up to 70 percent in costs", stated Jeffrey Galitz, M.D., D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., president and medical director of Wound Technology Network. According to Michael O'Dea, vice president of business development, WTN's plans include expansion of the programme to other regions, partners and providers during the next few months.

The Wound Technology Network is a provider of advanced telehealth care wound healing systems. The WTN is focused on providing cutting-edge care to a population where the delivery of services has been difficult. The current area of coverage is the Florida market, providing services to Humana Health Care Plans, Medicaid and Medicare patients.

In the pilot project which Cyber-Care initiated with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, patients in the study group reported significant behavioural changes due to their regular interactions with a registered nurse using the CyberCare System. After four months, the following are examples of improved behavioural changes that have been known to reduce the higher cost of associated health care services:

  • Reduced cigarette smoking from 2 packs per day to one-half pack per day;
  • Reduction in high blood pressure, which was previously uncontrolled at 180/120;
  • Increased knowledge of their disease process; and
  • Increased compliance with medications, for both COPD and other diagnoses.

These changes have occurred through a treatment plan that includes patient self-monitoring of blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels that, in turn, develops the patient's knowledge of his or her "normal" baseline medical measurements and also promotes early contact with the physician, instead of relying on the emergency room for monitoring and intervention of care. Additionally, over half of the patients have reported fewer hospital stays and emergency room visits since the start of the pilot.

The final results of the study are expected to be complete by year-end, after utilisation data is reported and processed. Interim results of the pilot study are encouraging, according to Mike Lemnitzer. "The anecdotal evidence is positive, but we want to stress that these are preliminary results that are not necessarily predictive of the final outcome, which will not be known until complete baseline data and programme results have been obtained", Mr. Lemnitzer stated. "However, initial data supports the benefits of telehealth initiatives such as cost-efficient processes and improved patient care." News about Cyber-Care in Europe is available in this issue's article CyberEuroCare gives Europe a taste of the Electronic HouseCall System.


Leslie Versweyveld

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