Cybernet's PalStar works with MedStar to remotely interact with chronic disease patients

Ann Arbor 09 October 2003Cybernet Medical, a developer of biometric monitoring technology and medical devices for outpatient care, has launched a new personal activity log device for its MedStar Disease Management Data Collection System at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the World HOMECARExpo in Orlando, Florida. Known as PalStar, this handheld touch screen unit facilitates two-way communication between a health care provider and a chronic disease patient by enabling an electronic dialogue via standard dial-up telephone lines, a boon for patients in rural areas or those with limited mobility.


Cybernet's MedStar, the key component of a Web- or POTS-based outpatient care system, is a small computerized terminal that collects physiological data from patients' in-home devices and sends the data to a central electronic management system. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals have immediate access to updated outpatient information.

In the current market, telemedicine services have employed expensive equipment required to operate the system. As most telemedicine services are not covered by medical insurance, Cybernet offers its MedStar technology at an affordable rate, so the chronically ill may overcome the obstacle of high prices.

The company continually innovates the MedStar product line. Cybernet recently added videotelephone service options, which are ideal for facilitating regular face-to-face visits between health care providers and patients in situations that preclude frequent office visits. These virtual visits, in combination, with regular physiological transmissions, enable health care providers to more closely monitor at-risk patients in a supportive manner.

"The future success of telemedicine lies in our ability to create economically-priced tools that incorporate a broad range of communication options", noted Chuck Jacobus, Ph.D., CEO of Cybernet Medical. "The MedStar system is already compatible with videotelephones, an ideal communication methodology for patients who have access to the infrastructure required for streaming video. But for patients in rural areas or for those who are less technologically inclined, such as the elderly, a more straightforward approach to remote physician-patient communication is needed. PalStar offers a simple and effective alternative."

The MedStar system remotely collects and transmits the physiological data of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension and congestive heart failure (CHF). PalStar offers a complementary level of care by allowing a series of subjective questions to be tailored and posed to each patient on a frequent basis.

Through a simple interactive interface with MedStar, a health care provider can now prompt a patient to take medication or ask how the patient is feeling. The questions are sent over a standard phone line to the patient's handheld PalStar. When the patient completes the answers by using a touch screen, the information is returned to the health provider or nurse, who then reviews the data via a computer.

PalStar offers the following features:

  • user-friendly screens with customizable fonts for patients who may need a larger typeface for improved readability
  • the ability to pose any type of question, ranging from multiple choice to text input
  • no requirement for additional hardware or software, as information from PalStar can be viewed from any Web browser

Practical benefits of the combined PalStar/MedStar system include:

  • the ability for health care caseworkers to further ensure programme compliance through frequent checks of chronic disease patients
  • a methodology for personal interaction that can be conducted at a convenient time for the patient
  • a way to maintain regular physician/patient dialogue when weather, traffic or distance precludes an office visit
  • documentation of patient progress

The MedStar interface device and accompanying collection server, together called the MedStar System, is designed to improve in-home patient chronic disease management. The battery-powered and portable MedStar device connects to and transmits physiological data from standard measurement devices regularly used at home by chronic disease patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, CHF and respiratory conditions.

These devices include electronic scales, blood pressure cuffs, spirometers, pulse oximetry and glucose monitors. Purpose-built for home care, hospitals and disease management companies, the MedStar device and its Web-based electronic patient physiological data record management system is the low cost solution for transmitting data acquired in the patient's home to remotely located caregivers.

Cybernet Medical is an innovative, technology-based company focused on changing the way chronic care patients are monitored and diagnosed. Through research funded by NASA, the National Institute of Health and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Cybernet Medical has developed and patented electronic devices, networked databases, and Web-based user interfaces for the collection and management of physiological data. More information on Cybernet is available in the VMW May 2003 article Cybernet Medical receives FDA clearance for MedStar to expand into home monitoring for diabetics.

Leslie Versweyveld

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