Shahal, an Israelian company, has developed a user-friendly emergency and preventive homecare telemedicine system for worldwide distribution. The WatchMan constitutes the most recent extension of this personal emergency response system, referred to as PERS. Elderly or disabled individuals can subscribe to a tele-assistance service and benefit from the PERS communication system. This private Home Care Centre connects the subscribers to a remote emergency response service for hands-free, two-way voice communication. The new HCC model features the WatchMan, a multifunctional wristwatch provided with a panic button, sensitive microphone and RF transmitter to offer the patient a greater feeling of security and peace of mind.
The Shahal Company operates a monitor centre with a staff of physicians and experienced coronary care unit (CCU) nurses to handle incoming subscriber calls. It also manages a fleet of mobile intensive care units (MICUs) to serve over 43.000 cardiac, pulmonary and hypertensive subscribers in Israel alone. People subscribing to these services are assured of a higher level of emergency care and continued professional medical monitoring. The patients are getting a Home Care Centre (HCC) and a WatchMan at their disposal in order to reach the monitor centre from any location within their home. The WatchMan forms an integral component of the HCC.
The PERS system is activated by simply pressing the WatchMan panic button, signaling the HCC desktop unit to dial the remote monitor centre. Here, the personal medical record of the calling patient immediately is displayed on a computer terminal. The responding physician carefully evaluates what action should be undertaken by comparing this personal medical history to the symptoms described on the phone as well as to the self-transmitted 12-lead ECG. He may decide to dispatch a MICU or simply give useful advise to the patient. The monitor centre is equipped with sophisticated communication and recording equipment and has several computer networks, running proprietary programmes. Subscribers who have not called in for sixty days are automatically contacted to make sure that everything is well.
Since many patients are reluctant to wear a hindering panic button that is too large, heavy, complicated and conspicuous, the WatchMan has been especially designed as a small, light, stylish and simple device. It can also be used as a standard water-resistant wristwatch with large and clear numbers that are easy to read. The HCC in turn comprises a one touch activation button, a sensitive microphone and powerful speaker, an RF receiver and external antenna which enables enhanced communication with the monitor centre staff via the WatchMan microphone. Additionally, an automatic detection system reports on the WatchMan's functionality. The HCC is able to store, analyse and transmit medical data via a standard telephone line by means of a memory, microprocessor and modem.
The Shahal Company already has been introducing this unique homecare telemedicine concept in several international locations. The monitor centre in Israel currently receives 150.000 calls per year, sufficient proof that the patients consider this emergency service to be convenient and trustworthy.