In designing the home telehealth solution, March Networks has focused on the ease-of-use requirements of patients and the ease-of-implementation requirements of home health care providers. A number of solution design elements address these needs, such as a wireless health monitoring kit and television-based video-conferencing equipment for use in a patient's home, and a secure, Web-based application that nurses use from a remote location to conduct visits and manage their caseloads. A recent pilot project using the March Networks Home Telehealth Solution found that 95.5% of patients were satisfied with the home telehealth experience.
With the world population of citizens over age 80 set to increase dramatically in the first half of this century, the health care industry is eagerly looking at innovative ways to contain health care delivery costs. According to Dr. Rashid Bashshur, Director of Telemedicine, University of Michigan Health Services, "Home telehealth is definitely the fastest growing area of telemedicine, as it has the potential to address the need for cost containment by providing a true alternative to high cost health services, such as hospital and emergency room visits, with ongoing patient monitoring, shared decision making, and improved continuity of care with automated patient records."
"As the industry is assessing the best means to design and implement home telehealth programmes, which provide much needed services for chronically ill and home-bound individuals and also address the need for cost containment in health care expenditures, a prudent investment for the future is in systems that utilise advances in technology, such as broadband and wireless systems. We don not plan for the past, we plan for the future", stated Dr. Bashshur.
Core March Networks Home Telehealth Solution features of interactive video visits and vital sign monitoring have been augmented with new capabilities that enable patients to do their own off-line monitoring in support of disease management and self-care. These new features will be used during an upcoming, two-year trial in Canada with the University of Sherbrooke focused on disease management of diabetes.
In addition to using the next version of pre-commercial technology in the upcoming pilot, March Networks is on track to establish additional partnerships that further examine the utility of home telehealth from both implementation and sustainability perspectives. Dr. Richard Scott of the University of Calgary's Health Telematics Unit was involved in the company's first pilot project, where the trial was focused on gauging client and nurse satisfaction, access to care, equivalence in quality of care versus in-home visits, and potential cost savings in supplementing conventional home care with remote home telehealth visits.
Dr. Scott stated: "It is rather like a train. We can set the pace, but the direction's been set for us. So telehealth is coming and what we need to do is understand more about it, so we use it in the best way possible to provide the maximum benefit for patients in a cost-effective fashion."
March Networks Corporation develops, manufactures, and distributes innovative broadband IP applications and delivery platforms. The company's integrated solutions enable businesses to improve operational efficiencies and generate new revenues with enhanced multimedia communication services that leverage the worldwide growth and always-on, interactive capabilities of broadband networks.
Through direct sales, premier distribution channels and strategic partnerships, including a strategic alliance with Mitel Networks, March Networks currently serves the financial, retail, health care, transportation, facilities, and government markets with high value business solutions. The company is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario and operates offices around the world. More details on March Networks' first pilot project are available in the VMW May 2002 article Nurses and patients more than satisfied with Nova Scotia home telehealth pilot.