Facebooking your doctor’s appointment

Telemedicine, which allows doctors to communicate, diagnose and even treat their patients remotely is on the rise thanks to advances in information technology. It allows healthcare workers to securely monitor patients in inaccessible parts of the world as well as providing more timely responses for patients in many situations. New research published in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics suggests that the world-wide social networking site, Facebook, and smart phone use could make telemedicine even more common and useful in healthcare.

Agostino Giorgio of the Politecnico di Bari, Italy, points out that, for most patients, telemedicine means fewer hospital visits, but it also provides critical services that might otherwise be unavailable. Remote heart monitoring and other diagnostic tools are quite common. Now, Giorgio has developed smart phone software, an application, that connects patient and doctor via the social networking site Facebook, although it could be adapted to work with another such networking system.

The Care-App allows private and secure communication between doctor and patient as well as offering a medication diary for the patient rescue call and clinic search and booking utility. Video connectivity makes the visit more personal but also allows a patient to show the doctor some symptoms or problems. There is also the option to use a “telestethoscope” device that connects to the smart phone headphone jack and would be provided to the patient or their carer. Giorgio and colleagues in the Cardiology department have already tested and validated a telestethoscope with this app. Other devices such as blood-oxygen saturation and pulse monitor, electrocardiogram (such as the AliveCor Heart Monitor), thermometer could also be used in conjunction with the smart phone input or in some cases simply through the video connection or a verbal/textual reporting of temperature, for instance.

“The patient also may use the Facebook share button or private message button, to send the doctor any other kind of information he may acquire and store with its own smart phone, concerning its own health status,” says Giorgio. “Care-app manages all these steps, apps and operations, performed by the doctor and by the patient during the remote medical visit.” Care-App is written in HTML5/Java, and so should work on any operating system with all smart devices – smart phones, tablets, notebook and desktop computers.


Internet portal for telemedicine programs aims to change patients’ lifestyles

At Medica 2016, in Dusseldorf, Germany, SYMILA, the Fraunhofer Application Center at Hamm-Lippstadt, demonstrated a telemedicine Internet portal for diabetics, which was implemented on behalf of DITG – Deutsches Institut für Telemedizin und Gesundheitsförderung. The portal, centrepiece of an E-Health intervention system, collects and evaluates the data from telemedicine devices and lets DITG coaches address each patient based on information about her/his current situation. The system meets the requirements for a “Medical Data Space (MedDS)” that guarantees a secure exchange of medical data, as specified by the Fraunhofer initiative “Industrial Data Space (IDS)”.

DITG develops and implements health management programs for health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and organizations with an internal health management system. These programs typically aim to improve the participants’ quality of life while at the same time reducing healthcare spending.

On behalf of DITG, SYMILA, the Fraunhofer Application Center powered by Fraunhofer FIT developed and implemented a telemedicine portal for monitoring type 2 diabetes patients and for advising them on health-related problems. The participants in the program are given a set of telemedicine devices like blood glucose meter, electronic balance and pedometer, whose data are collected in the portal in real time. Here they are converted to easy-to-understand charts that are available to the participants and to the coaches from DITG. When a critical parameter exceeds a pre-defined threshold, the portal sends an automatic warning. It allows the coach to intervene as appropriate and avoid situations that might pose a risk to the patient. Thus, the patient learns how to deal with her specific condition with a minimum loss of quality of life.

The portal is based on a modular, open systems architecture with flexible interfaces, so it can easily be extended to cater for other medical conditions, such as cardiac insufficiency or COPD.

This portal was developed byFraunhofer FIT and is now operated in a computer centre of its own, in order to satisfy the requirements for data availability and data security.

“Keeping patients in control of theirvown data is a very important aim for us. ThevDITG system demonstrates convincingly how medical data can be shared securely and efficiently between patient, physician, clinic and other stakeholders”, explained Prof Harald Mathis, head of both the Biomolecular Optical Systems group (BioMOS) of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT and SYMILA.

The DITG system is based on the concept of “Medical Data Space (MedDS)” put forward by the Fraunhofer initiative “Industrial Data Space (IDS)”. The Medical Data Space is a virtual data space that supports sharing and aggregating medical and health-related data from different sources, based on standards and shared models of governance. The MedDS concept aims to improve the quality of diagnostics, prevention and therapy as well as therapy monitoring.




InTouch Health and GE Healthcare start Virtual Onsite Training

InTouch Health, a US-based enterprise telehealth provider with solutions that have been used at over 1,500 locations in more than 30 countries, and GE Healthcare’s Global Education Services division, have started Virtual Onsite Training, a remote presence training commercialization effort after successful completion of a two-year pilot.

The initiative begins with establishing a total of 50 InTouch Health Tech remote presence devices in rotation at more than 200 global locations to support the technical and product training of clinicians, physicians, and technicians using a variety of GE Healthcare products.

During the pilot, the InTouch Health telehealth network and remote presence devices were used to connect GE experts remotely to healthcare providers across GE’s installed base around the world. More than 200 telepresence training classes occurred, involving more than 300 medical professionals, in both the proper use of GE equipment and best practices. The pilot program demonstrated that adding this remote presence training resulted in higher effectiveness than traditional training alone, and offered greater convenience to the customer through the flexibility of on-demand telepresence.

The Virtual Onsite Training device replicates face-to-face training through an attached video monitor and robotics for twoway communication and interaction.

Commenting on the initiative, Mario Lois, General Manager, GE Healthcare Global Education Services, said: “GE Healthcare provides technology to providers and patients around the world. The users who operate those devices are as impactful, if not more so, on the actual efficiency and patient outcomes as the product itself. Therefore, GE has made it a global priority to re-imagine its training and education solutions to help users achieve and maintain optimal skills and product usage. Our collaboration with InTouch Health enables network connectivity, hands on interaction, and an intuitive user experience for their online mobile remote presence training which will be foundational to reaching this goal.”

The InTouch Health telehealth network is a single unified cloud infrastructure that includes data centres around the globe, covering the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The network provides a regulatory (HIPAA) compliant, secure, scalable, and always available network hosting FDA Class II and Class I medical devices. The network architecture allows for the delivery of business intelligence and data analytics gathered from all data traffic managed on any connected device. This is the same network used by GE to deliver their customer on-demand Virtual Onsite Training.





Date of upload: 14th May 2017

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