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Auckland District Health Board, Gen-i and Alcatel-Lucent running mobile telehealth trial
Posted on 10-Nov-2009 10:10 | Tags Filed under: News

Twenty heart failure patients in Auckland are to trial a New Zealand first – using mobile technology to transmit their daily health readings without having to step foot into a hospital.

The Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), Gen-i and Alcatel-Lucent have partnered to launch the first trial using mobile technology to monitor and manage patients with chronic illness in the comfort of their own home.

The three month trial (which started on 1 October) has participants take daily measurements of weight, blood pressure and pulse rate using an electronic scale and blood pressure monitor provided to them. Their measurements are automatically transmitted via mobile phone to a secure online database which stores the readings along with relevant medical data. The readings will be monitored daily via a web portal, by the Auckland City Hospital cardiac team. Patients are also able to monitor their own readings.

Auckland District Health Board Chief Funding and Planning Manager Officer, Dr Denis Jury, says the innovative Telehealth monitoring system could improve health outcomes and enhance patients’ quality of life, while reducing costs and increasing clinical efficiencies for health providers.

“The technology is emerging as a cost and time effective tool worldwide to help keep people with long term conditions well and out of hospital,” said Dr Jury.

“The pilot has been developed to help our health sector investigate ways of responding to the marked increase in the number of New Zealanders with long-term chronic conditions. It is hoped the technology will, in time, also support the growing number of patients with other long-term illnesses such as diabetes, respiratory disease, hypertension and asthma.”

Gayl Humphrey, Manager Strategy and Implementation at ADHB, says patients with long term conditions who are supported to self manage, for example by self monitoring their vital signs daily, are more able to understand their condition and pro-actively manage their wellness, which impacts positively on their overall quality of life.

“We have been collaborating with Gen-i and Alcatel-Lucent to bring this concept to life,” says Humphrey.

“A key expected benefit is the early detection of deterioration in the patient’s health which will allow rapid medical intervention and the avoidance of more serious complications. This has benefits for the patients’ wellbeing and avoids costly emergency department visits and hospital re-admissions,” she said.

Chris Quin, CEO of Gen-i, explains that faced with rapidly increasing numbers of patients with chronic illnesses, the health sector is looking for ways to consolidate specialists’ time and relieve pressure on them.

“The Telehealth initiative combats both these issues while also providing positive health outcomes for patients. Gen-i and Telecom are well placed with the scale, technology and infrastructure to support the solution nationwide and through Gen-i’s existing relationships with DHBs and other health organisations.

Quin adds that mobile technologies provide a simple and cost effective platform for this approach. “Patients and health professionals are likely to be familiar with how to use a mobile phone, so set up and training is straight forward. The process is completed in a matter of seconds, providing near real-time monitoring and response,” he adds.

Alcatel-Lucent continues to offer innovative communications solutions for the healthcare industry and leverages its relationships by working with service providers and medical providers throughout the world to enable enhanced patient care.

“Alcatel-Lucent‘s work with Gen-i offers these trial patients a secure and reliable remote patient monitoring service that will afford them greater flexibility in the way that they manage their health and recovery, and we are confident that this application will prove beneficial to them and will be able to be replicated at many other medical centres.” said Steve Lowe, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent New Zealand.

Results from the trial are expected in early 2010. Once assessed, Auckland District Health Board says it may look at extending the trial to incorporate patients with other chronic illnesses.

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