Nemours and JEA set a national standard in remote home monitoring children with asthma using Broadband over Power Lines

Jacksonville 25 March 2005Nemours, one of the United States' largest paediatric subspeciality group practices, and JEA, the eighth largest municipal electric, water and sewer utility in the United States and the largest in Florida, will begin monitoring chronically ill children in their home using a wall socket to carry the children's medical information back to doctors at Nemours. This is a first for the nation and a first in paediatrics: to use Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) in connection with medical monitoring of patients in their home.

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Remote monitoring technology is in limited use in the United States. Usually implemented via telephone lines, it has proven very successful at improving patient outcomes. However many households, particularly those with very sick family members, do not have the financial resources to support telephone service. Encounters involving BPL will utilize a simple electric wall socket. Nemours and JEA plan to successfully demonstrate this method of service through a pilot programme using technology in a way that is not being offered anywhere else in the United States.

Introducing BPL technology to remote home monitoring technology aligns with President George W. Bush's priority expansion plan for all Americans to have access to broadband technology by 2007 as well as his mandate to seek innovative ways to deliver medical services more effectively using new technology.

"Remote home monitoring will some day be routine for most patients", stated David J. Bailey, MD, MBA, Vice President of Patient Operations and COO of Nemours. "E-health visits will extend a trend in health care delivery, one that transcends geography, increases patient access, improves outcomes, easily stores the information in a patient's Electronic Medical Record, and reduces overall health care costs."

The remote home monitoring via BPL experience involves a paediatric asthma patient interacting with a clinician, from the comfort of his/her own home. Each e-visit will involve a patient sending biologic information from a spirometer, pulse oximeter, dose counter and stethoscope to the clinician in "real time". That information will be interfaced with Nemours' Electronic Medical Record, creating a more complete picture of that child's health status.

"Home monitoring enables nurses and physicians to extend care beyond the traditional clinic visit and removes traditional geographic barriers to medical access. It allows care for a patient in his/her own home environment, where the most chronic asthma attacks actually occur", stated David Schaeffer, MD, Chief of Pulmonology and Allergy at Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville. "This project has enormous potential to advance the continuum of care to patients, and empowers them to manage their illness using state-of-the-art technology that is patient-friendly and designed to interface with the Electronic Medical Record."

Once the data is received by Nemours, it will automatically be inserted into Nemours' Electronic Medical Record. From there, it will be viewable by Nemours' physicians and nurses from anywhere in the world.

JEA has been evaluating the use of BPL as a means of leveraging existing infrastructure to provide communications to enhance the reliability of its current facilities. This pilot project will allow the utility to field-test the technology to determine if it will create a more intelligent and secure infrastructure. This includes increasing the reliability of the JEA electric distribution by improving applications such as outage notification, automatic meter reading and power grid monitoring.

This pilot project will involve up to 10 JEA facilities and up to 70 patients Nemours has identified for medical support. Nemours and JEA were selected, along with 26 other organisations from a field of 494 applications, to receive a collective $14,4 million in funding for a Technology Opportunities Programme grant, from the United States Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Nemours selected ViTel Net to supply the programme with remote home monitoring equipment because of their unique capability to integrate medical devices needed to properly monitor children remotely, and to be able to rapidly modify standard software to the specific requirements of the Nemours' work flow and processes. The devices will be provided to patients at no cost to them for the duration of the project.

Nemours provides institutions and services to improve the health of children. Employing over 400 paediatric physicians, subspecialists and surgeons, Nemours cared for more than a quarter of a million children during more than three quarter of a million encounters in 2004, making Nemours one of the nation's largest paediatric subspeciality group practices.

In addition to the many ongoing research, education, health and prevention programmes, Nemours owns and operates the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and major children's speciality centres in Florida including Jacksonville, Orlando and Pensacola, Pennsylvania including Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr, New Jersey including Atlantic City and Voorhees, and several primary care paediatric practices throughout Delaware.

Nemours is affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Florida, University of Delaware, Christiana Care Health System, Baptist Medical Center with Wolfson Children's Hospital, Orlando Regional Medical Center with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women, and Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.

JEA is the eighth largest municipal electric, water and sewer utility in the United States and the largest in Florida. JEA currently serves more than 360.000 customers in Jacksonville and parts of three adjacent counties.

Founded in 1989, Visual Telecommunications Networks Inc., better known as ViTel Net offers Telemedicine applications and scalable, remote health monitoring throughout the Continuum of Care. Based in McLean, Virginia, ViTel Net can rapidly and seamlessly integrate an enterprise-wide suite of proven solutions into any existing health care infrastructure, taking full advantage of legacy technology investments while introducing new, profitable or cost-saving business-expanding capabilities.


Leslie Versweyveld

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