"The rural home health agencies of INTEGRIS serve people over a large geographical area", noted Cynthia Scheideman-Miller, director of the Oklahoma City-based INTEGRIS Rural Telemedicine Project. "Through previous work with Cybernet Medical, we've seen that remote vital sign monitoring can help eliminate the distance barrier and provide our nurses with more timely information. Remote monitoring has actually helped prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency room, and we've had patients indicate their quality of life has improved. Now, through the RUS grant, we look forward to the opportunity of extending this service to even more patients."
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). The RUS grant will be used to supply MedStar equipment kits to 200 patients in six rural Oklahoma hospitals to remotely transmit weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, lung air volume and other data to providers in the INTEGRIS Health System.
This vital sign monitoring equipment is used in conjunction with a StarView Video phone to enable providers to have face-to-face contact with patients. Through the MedStar Data Collection System installed in INTEGRIS facilities, nurses will then be able to review patient data on a more frequent basis regardless of distance between patient and caregiver.
"The MedStar system is ideally suited to programmes such as the INTEGRIS Health Rural Telemedicine Programme", noted Charles J. Jacobus, Ph.D., CEO of Cybernet Medical. "The equipment is affordable, easy to use and only requires standard dial-up telephones for transmitting patient physiological data. These are important considerations for hospitals or clinics in areas that do not have an advanced telecommunications infrastructure or that have an elderly patient population that might be intimidated by more complicated medical equipment."
Cybernet Medical and INTEGRIS plan to initiate the MedStar roll-out to additional Oklahoma patients by the end of the year. These patients will be supported for up to four years by the RUS grant. The award-winning MedStar interface device and accompanying collection server, together called the MedStar System, is designed to improve in-home patient chronic disease management. It is the first fully FDA-approved and HIPAA compliant system that collects data directly from patients and forwards it to health care providers via the Internet.
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.
INTEGRIS is the largest Oklahoma based hospital system in the state of Oklahoma. The system serves over a third of the population of the state and has been utilizing telemedicine for a wide variety of speciality and support services. INTEGRIS has been active in telemedicine since 1994 and was awarded two Rural Telemedicine Grants from the Office for the Advancement of Telemedicine in 1997 and again in 2000. INTEGRIS has been named in the 100 "most wired" health systems by Hospital and Health Networks magazine for four years in a row.
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, National Institutes 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 news on the company is available in the VMW November 2003 issue Cybernet's PalStar works with MedStar to remotely interact with chronic disease patients.