This program supports the commercialisation and deployment of the March Networks home telehealth solution to be delivered over two-way satellite networks. This solution enables remote nursing visits and vital sign monitoring through fully interactive voice, video and data transmission, and will target healthcare service delivery in rural and remote areas.
This solution is unique in that the targeted operators/users of this system are homecare nurses and their patients, therefore careful application of advanced technologies must be considered in the development and design. Successful adoption of this type of solution will be very dependant on the ability to deliver a user friendly, seamless end to end solution, that provides both economical value and enhances the ability of caregivers to deliver healthcare to their patient base.
The research and development effort will focus on development of the web-based software application, the communications interface that will allow the solution to be deployed over two-way satellite, and extension of the health monitoring kit (patient terminal) to support broader disease management capabilities as a strategic business direction for the solution as a whole.
There are two key challenges in the development of this solution. The ability to deploy patient terminals in remote locations is made possible through the satellite communication system. The ability to remotely diagnose problems, and upgrade terminal functionality in the field is critical to the success of a commercially viable deployment.
The solution is built on the latest technologies. The users of the system are primarily nurses and the patients they care for. It is important that the unique requirements of this user population are properly addressed in order to ease the adoption of this technology for its intended purpose.
The March Networks telehealth solution is being developed as a productivity tool to address healthcare delivery challenges, including chronic healthcare professional shortages, access to care for patients, and to assist in early intervention and prevention in support of disease management.
These factors are exacerbated in remote communities, where available healthcare services suffer from chronic shortages of healthcare professionals, where remote visiting can demonstrate significant benefits in the reduction of travel time and expenses for both healthcare providers and their clients and where early intervention and disease management can provide a dramatic impact on a patients quality of life.
Delivering remote nursing visits over satellite communications offers distinct benefits to people in aboriginal or remote communities; individuals and organizations who provide the healthcare management services; and, to those who ultimately pay for it:
For individuals - enhanced access to healthcare services by the elimination of geographic and distance barriers and the elimination of travel .
For healthcare providers - efficient utilization of scarce healthcare professional resources, opportunity to gain knowledge and support through increased access to other healthcare professionals and institutions, expanded customer base, social marketing opportunities.
For payers - avoidance of costly transportation costs through regular monitoring and the ability to provide early intervention and disease management capabilities.
The TeLeCare solution builds on the architecture used for the March Networks telehealth pilot project but expands on the original pilot functionality while lowering the component costs, improving the user experience, and increasing the system level security, supportability, and reliability. The resulting system is intended to be a scalable solution that can be deployed in a commercial offering.
The solution architecture is centred on a hosted application. Nurse and patient terminals access the network application server (NAS) directly and can be connected in a peer-to-peer fashion for a remote visit or e-learning application.
The TeLeCare system is fundamentally an IP-based solution and impacts all aspects of the design. Open standards are leveraged across the solution elements to support interoperability with third party products and applications, to increase functionality by allowing solution elements to be re-deployed in different configurations, and to improve security, maintenance, and scalability. The benefits of making the solution IP standards compliant touch all aspects of the design from universal broadband support, to the J2EE based network-hosted application, through to the terminal architecture and client access technologies employing the latest in Bluetooth wireless interconnectivity.
The plan is to design, build, and prototype the terminals and network hosted application in support of a complete turnkey telehealth solution to be deployed over two-way satellite. The terminals will we built to provide two-way audio and video conferencing between nurses and patients. The ability to take vital sign measurements and listen to heart and lung sounds during a remote visit will be supported along with the capability for patients to take their vitals unassisted for review by a nurse at a later date.
The final end-to-end solution demonstration and delivery is scheduled for March 2004.
|On June 22nd, the TeLeCare team successfully delivered their final presentation to ESA at March's offices in Ottawa. At that time, the final TeLeCare terminals and network application were demonstrated. Subsequently, on July 5th in Frascati, Italy, the solution was demonstrated to a wider audience at the Telemedicine Symposium.|
The project has delivered on its objectives to develop a solution that provides the best possible care management service over any available network infrastructure, and provides a product roadmap that supports a broad range of features and functionality to the healthcare market segment.
Of particular interest in this achievement is the ability to broaden the delivery of telehealth services via two-way satellite into rural and remote communities, where available healthcare services suffer from chronic shortages of healthcare professionals, and where remote visiting can demonstrate significant benefits in the reduction of travel time and expenses for both healthcare providers and their clients and where early intervention and disease management can provide a dramatic impact on a patients quality of life.
The March Networks home telehealth solution now enables the following services:
- Remote nursing visiting supporting teaching/training capabilities
- Vital sign monitoring and tracking of trends, including off-line monitoring, exceptions reporting and medication reminders
- Case management, including electronic health records, scheduling, and reporting
- Care on demand - ability of patients to interact with a healthcare professional on demand (outside of a scheduled appointment)
March Networks is actively pursuing early deployment opportunities. For ongoing updates, please visit their site at www.marchhealthcare.com.
Telesat Canada is also pursuing HomeCare via satellite services using its fleet of satellites including Anik F2 with 45 beam Ka-band payload.