Will IT change how doctors treat you in 2010?

Telehealth tech could allow patients to be monitored wirelessly in real time

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Corventis Inc., a wireless monitoring device vendor, developed a wireless cardiovascular reader that looks a lot like a typical Band-Aid. The PiiX is water-resistant, adheres to the skin and automatically collects and transmits health data to a second, portable device that wirelessly sends the information to Corventis. It can then aggregate the data for analysis or pass it along securely to physicians or for inclusion in a personal health record.

Health data uploads

Health monitoring vendor iMetrikus offers an aggregation service called MediCompass Connect. It is a telehealth gateway members can use to upload biometric data from over 50 personal health monitoring devices, including glucose monitors, insulin pumps, blood pressure monitors, digital spirometers, pedometers and weight scales. The system transfers data via a standard phone line or PC using a single-click connectivity hub. The data is then integrated with health management systems, such as disease and wellness programs, EHRs, provider practice tools and predictive modeling applications.

"Now, all of a sudden a patient is checking [their own] readings and uploading them into their patient medical record as well as an electronic medical record," Leisure said. "And now the physician has a way to see if a patient is being compliant with care instructions and can see spikes in health trending data. I think this will lead to a more compliant patient, too."

Managed care providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Group Health Cooperative in Washington already offer eHealth visits with physicians. The virtual interactions are more affordable because physicians are prepaid before ever seeing patients.

"You'll see the benefits of [electronic medical records] in a clearer and more measurable way in prepaid health systems than in fee-for-service systems," he said.

Evidence-based medicine

Electronic records help support "evidence-based medicine," which allows the federal government to monitor how doctors treat patients based on policies and practices derived from the systematic, scientific study of standardized treatments. For example, it's been known for years that patients should be prescribed aspirin after a heart attack, but there is currently no way of making sure that happens.

Standardizing on evidence-based order systems in order to qualify for federal money, or opening up access to personal health records on cloud computing networks, will allow doctors and patients to make better choices for care, said Kurt Miller, the global lead for Accenture's health management solutions practice.

"We've known for decades, or certainly [for] many years, [that] you need to be doing certain best practices post event.... But it's interesting how often those best practices are not followed," Miller said. "I believe that these technologies will begin to change those behaviors without a significant investment. It's just a matter of people doing it."

Lucas Mearian covers storage; disaster recovery and business continuity; financial services infrastructure; health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter @lucasmearian, send e-mail at lmearian@computerworld.com or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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