Clinicians can observe and communicate with patients through the videoconferencing system. The research study will also explore whether the videoconferencing capabilities "are helpful to the patient, being able to see their provider," Hanson said.
The videoconferencing capabilities allow on-the-fly as well as scheduled video calls, said Askew.
Right now, patients' at-home monitoring data is not being integrated into Mayo's e-medical records systems, however that's a possibility later, said Hanson.
While previous research studies have examined how home-based monitoring can help in the care of patients with specific diseases, such as heart failure, the new Mayo telehealth project will be the first to study the care and cost benefits for a broader population of individuals -- in this case, elderly patients with a variety of chronic conditions.
"We're targeting an older age group, many whom have multiple chronic conditions," Hanson said.
"The fastest growing segment of the population is over age 85," he said. "The goal is for them to live at home as long as possible," he said. The study will examine whether home health monitoring is effective in reducing emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and length of stay hospitalization of these elderly patients through the assistance of remote clinicians who can recognize signs of trouble and provide earlier intervention to prevent issues from worsening.
The study can also help shed a better light on whether the use of telemedicine applications such as at-home health monitoring can help reduce the much larger expenses that are incurred when chronically ill elderly patients suffer medical complications and require hospital care.
The research study also fits into GE Healthcare and Intel's ongoing work announced last year to jointly develop and market technologies for home-based health and chronic disease management. The two companies are investing $250 million over the next five years on these efforts.
Under that partnership, GE markets and sells the Intel Health Guide system in the United States and United Kingdom.