Make no mistake about it: medical monitoring and treatment are going wireless and internet-based, both at home and at the hospital. HealthDay reports about tele-healthcare gadgets designed for initial, basic in-home diagnostics:
The Health Buddy links to the Internet and “addresses more than 45 disease states and engages in dialogue with patients that allow health care providers to identify those at risk and provide care that can prevent hospital admissions,” according to the company. A similar system called ViterionNET TeleHealthCare Network is marketed by Bayer-Panasonic of Tarrytown, N.Y. American TeleCare of Eden Prairie, Minn, markets another system.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a pioneer in this approach, calls it home-based primary care. At the VA hospital in Tampa, Fla., a computer monitor was put in 17 patients’ homes, and a nurse used the device to call in weekly. The patient pushed a button on the home monitor to answer the call. A video display allowed both the nurse and patient to see and communicate with each other and for the nurse to use diagnostic tools. The nurse listened to the patient’s heart, lung, and bowel sounds via an electronic stethoscope. The patient took a blood-pressure and pulse reading and reported the findings. Readings from pulse oximeters, glucometers, and weight from electronic scales can be done.
In 2002, a VA analysis of those participating in its home health-monitoring program, similar to Health Buddy, showed a 63 percent drop in hospital admissions, a 40 percent drop in emergency room visits, a 60 percent decline in bed days of care, a 64 percent drop in nursing home admissions, and an 88 percent reduction in nursing home bed days of care. Patient satisfaction rates exceeded 90 percent.
The device pictured above is the Viterion 500 that helps patients do the following: measure blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen (SpO2), measure temperature and weight, record peak flow, record stethoscope sounds, and take ECGs.
The website of HealthBuddy is located here. The website of American TeleCare is here.