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2/23/2010
02:04 PM
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In-Home Telemedicine Study Launched

Mayo, GE, and Intel will explore how videoconferencing and electronic health monitoring can help sick, elderly patients remain in their homes and avoid costly hospitalizations.

Mayo Clinic, GE Healthcare, and Intel have launched a new initiative to study the care and cost benefits of home-based health monitoring for elderly patients with chronic illnesses.

During the year-long study, 200 high-risk patients over the age of 60 who suffer chronic conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, and lung disease will daily use at-home medical devices to take their vital signs, such as blood pressure, peak air flow, weight, or blood sugar readings.

The medical devices transmit the information to an Intel Health Guide remote patient monitoring system located in the patient's home. Depending on the particular medical device, data is transmitted to the Intel Health Guide system either via wired or wireless connection, such as Bluetooth. Then, the Intel system electronically transmits to Mayo the patient's vital sign data, as well as the patient's answers to several disease-specific questions asked via text or audio by the Intel system.

The Intel Health Guide system features a touchscreen for patients to easily answer the questions, which can be personalized by clinicians based on the individual's particular medical issues, said Ray Askew, Intel Health Guide marketing manager. Those inquiries could include things like asking a patient how many cups of water they've consumed that day or whether the individual is feeling better compared to the prior day.

The data is collected into a central Mayo database. Preset data "thresholds" determine whether a medical reading -- such as weight -- is within a normal range for that patient, said Dr. Gregory Hanson, a principal Mayo researcher in the study and a physician in Mayo's department of primary care internal medicine.

A team of Mayo clinicians, including nurse practitioners, accesses the patient data online for review via a dashboard. Color codes help clinicians recognize which of their patients are experiencing out-of-range vital sign readings.

"The system red-flags problems, "said Hanson. Yellow codes mean a patient hasn't provided data yet for the day, and green means a patient's readings looks within normal range.

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