Siemens MedStage telemedicine solution enables remote ophthalmic and disease management services

Malvern 29 April 2004Methodist Hospital Division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the first United States health care enterprise to implement MedStage, Siemens telemedicine solution platform for comprehensive disease management and tele-ophthalmology, scheduled for general availability in the third quarter of 2004. Given the United States government's recent passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 and its focus on improving disease management benefits for seniors, the introduction of MedStage in the United States signifies an important advancement for health care.

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Diabetic patients served by Methodist Hospital will benefit from remote diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma services enabled by MedStage and operated by Interactive Medicine Inc., an ophthalmologic medical service provider and an organisation that Siemens has selected to co-operate with on this and future projects. Accessible via the Internet, MedStage optimizes the ophthalmic work flow and the quality of communication by linking physicians and their medical devices with experts at any location. Patients' medical findings are gathered and documented on-line, together with physician comments, recommendations and messages.

MedStage then distributes this information in an electronic health record accessible by the appropriate care providers. The system automatically informs providers about pending tasks, co-ordinates appointments, and manages necessary documentation from patient registration and care planning to treatment tracking and quality management, all of which means that physicians can monitor and optimize patient treatment progress electronically, improving work flow and patient care processes.

MedStage enables Methodist Hospital to incorporate ophthalmic evaluation services into its portfolio, thereby complementing existing programmes without recruiting specialists. Methodist's two eye cameras capture the retinal images, which are stored in the MedStage application. Using an ophthalmic image viewer, physicians remotely capture and grade patients' images and then conveniently distribute results to the patient's primary care or specialist physicians utilizing the MedStage platform.

"MedStage offers access to ophthalmic care for a larger base of patients with increased convenience and higher quality", stated Robert C. Sergott, MD, director of ophthalmologic care at Methodist. "With the MedStage application, each patient receives state-of-the-art ophthalmic services quickly and accurately, while improving work flow and providing significant cost savings to Methodist and our patients. The programme operates within the framework of the Methodist medical community, and all current referral patterns and relationships are maintained. We want the patients to have an easy entry point into the complex world of ophthalmology. Our goal is to protect the vision of all patients at the Bove Center from the devastating complications of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, two of the leading causes of blindness in America. Every patient should and must be evaluated. With MedStage and the co-operation of all the physicians at Methodist, we are striving to achieve 100 percent compliance for annual examinations for diabetic patients in their local medical community."

The implementation of MedStage at Methodist demonstrates the health care industry's progress in telemedicine and movement toward even more comprehensive disease management applications. While the tele-screening offering is Methodist's entree into disease management, the fuller MedStage platform planned for release in late 2004 provides a full suite of disease management solutions.

"Under the new Medicare prescription drug programme, providers will receive reimbursements for quality enhancements and error reductions", stated Jon Zimmerman, vice president, Soarian Health Connections, Siemens Medical Solutions. "As a result, more institutions will look to implement disease management services. Clearly, solutions like MedStage are critical to the future of health care. These technologies help providers deliver better care through optimal co-ordination and oversight, with information that is accessible anywhere, anytime."

MedStage's unique capabilities have been proven in a number of successful projects in Europe including tele-ophthalmology, home-monitoring and disease management applications. These include a United Kingdom National Health Service supported project that allowed specialists in different countries to provide expertise to community screening centres thereby efficiently improving patient care delivery for more than 1000 patients. During the course of the project, care providers successfully demonstrated that patient care delivery could be improved while simultaneously reducing related costs.

Located in the heart of South Philadelphia, the Methodist Hospital Division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a member of the Jefferson Health System, offers a wide variety of health care and medical services to the community. Patients from all over the area can receive a full range of services including emergency care, cardiac care and rehabilitation, diagnostic imaging services, cancer care and radiation therapy, expert shoulder and elbow care, diabetes treatment, women's health specialties and more.

Interactive Medicine Inc. (IMI), a pioneer in telemedicine applications, has been providing innovative telehealth solutions to meet the needs of health care providers and facilities since 1996. Using either the company's proprietary software, or, identifying and affiliating with global partners IMI supplies clinical, management and consulting support to ensure an effective and comprehensive implementation of the unique and dynamic telehealth needs of its clients. IMI's telemedicine approach was created to provide physicians, patients and other health care professionals with cost sensitive state-of-the-art clinical capabilities; greater collaboration and educational opportunities; and, easy Internet connectivity.

Siemens Medical Solutions of Siemens AG, with headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania and Erlangen, Germany, is one of the largest suppliers to the health care industry in the world. The company is known for bringing together innovative medical technologies, health care information systems, management consulting, and support services, to help customers achieve tangible, sustainable, clinical and financial outcomes. Employing approximately 31.000 people worldwide and operating in more than 120 countries, Siemens Medical Solutions reported sales of 7,4 billion euro, orders of 7,8 billion euro and group profit of 1,1 billion euro for fiscal 2003.


Leslie Versweyveld

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