Texas network coalition expands reach to rural home health care agencies using CyberCare System

Boynton Beach 16 August 2001Health Access and Alert Network of Texas (HAANet), a statewide secure network sponsored by the Texas Rural Hospital Telecommunications Alliance (TRHTA) and the Texas Association of Local Health Officials (TALHO), has selected the CyberCare System as its telehome care solution, helping to broaden the network's outreach to rural home health care agencies. Allowing rural home health care nurses to see approximately 15-25 patients per day, the CyberCare System will initially be installed in multiple locations throughout Texas.

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HAANet connects to facilities throughout the state and has been selected to function as the Health Alert Network for Texas, a Center for Disease Control (CDC) sponsored programme to alert providers of serious public health problems. The Network will use funds provided by a Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board (TIFB) grant to purchase, as part of the programme, CyberCare products and services in order to expand its network applications to include remote patient monitoring for rural home health care agencies.

The initial CyberCare package will consist of a clinic base station with specialised care management software including patient assessment, care plan, visit scheduler, a patient video unit with flat touch screen monitor, and health monitoring peripherals for blood pressure, weight, blood glucose and oxygen levels, and temperature. Where video is not needed, a data-gathering patient unit with a glucometer, weight scale, and blood pressure cuff will be used. All patient units are connected over standard phone lines to the clinic where the base station will connect to the HAANet for backup, service and data management.

Robert M. Brecht, Ph.D., has spent the last three years developing HAANet's vision. His company, E-Health Solutions Inc., is responsible for implementing and managing the network and services over it. "It is our vision to bring services of real value to rural health care providers and the patients they serve with the goal of lowering the cost of care while providing significant opportunities for expanded or improved health care", Dr. Brecht stated. "E-Health Solutions will work with CyberCare and the participating agencies to determine an appropriate practice model for telehome care for rural home health and hospice agencies.

According to Michael Lemnitzer, CyberCare's vice president of business development, rural areas have historically had limited access regarding ongoing quality health care. "HAANet clearly sees the cost-saving and improved care benefits of using Internet technology to increase access in rural settings", Mr. Lemnitzer explained. "By creating this secure network, accessible to a large number of patients, providers and payors, we are able to improve the overall quality of rural health care services and further our initiatives to assist the home health care industry."

HAANet was designed and implemented by E-Health Solutions Inc. which administers HAANet on their behalf. The Cisco-powered network connects several hundred facilities in Texas and is designed to be fully HIPAA compliant. Facilities on the network get access to the Internet, e-mail, Web hosting, long distance bypass utilising voice-over-IP (VoIP) network, monitoring, help desk, video-conferencing and access to health care resources and information.

HAANet is currently implementing the Texas Health Alert Network as part of its service responsibility and is adding 64 local health departments to the network. HAANet also plans a significant expansion of telemedicine, distance education, and teleradiology implementation in 2002. More news on CyberCare is available in the VMW August 2001 article "Wealth from Health" and CyberCare concepts to stimulate patient self management.


Leslie Versweyveld

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