CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
UI, Kansas firm announce electronic home health care services
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa residents soon will have a new way to manage chronic
disease, one that uses telecommunications technology to deliver health care
directly into their homes.
The service stems from a partnership between the University of Iowa Health
System and HELP Innovations of Lawrence, Kan., to provide health care monitoring
and consultation via interactive television.
Dr. Michael Kienzle, associate dean for clinical affairs and medical communications
at the UI College of Medicine, describes the service as "personalized
telemedicine." It uses the resourceLINKTM developed by HELP Innovations,
a cost-effective way to enhance home health services.
"We think this system will be more efficient and less expensive. It
may help a home health care provider see 20 patients in a day versus five
or six," Kienzle says. The system also could be used by physicians to
make electronic house calls.
The service has begun a gradual rollout and will be available in the Iowa
City area in January 1998. Eventually, it will be made available statewide
in collaboration with community-based agencies.
The resourceLINKTM system is easy to use for both patients and health care
professionals. It uses a 13-inch television, a small video camera and a standard
telephone installed in a patient's home. To begin a visit, a health care professional
simply telephones the patient from the system's base station. When the patient
answers the phone, an audio/video connection is established. All system functions
are controlled from the base station, where specially designed computer software
helps monitor treatment goals and interventions.
"We have proven with real life cases that telemedicine provides a cost-effective
alternative with quality outcomes," says Linda Roman, president and CEO
of HELP Innovations. The partnership with the UI is the company's first alliance
with a university health system.
"The university and HELP Innovations make good partners because they
share the same vision and commitment to a clinical, patient-centered approach
to telehome care," says R. Edward Howell, chair of the executive committee
for the UI Health System.
A joint venture company, resourceLINKTM of Iowa, will offer the service across
the state. Its base station and personnel will be located in Iowa City. A
coordinating committee representing both the university and HELP Innovations
will oversee the project.
"The service is aimed at patient populations frequently seen by physicians
and often admitted to hospitals, including those with heart disease, diabetes
and psychiatric illnesses," Kienzle says. He adds that by some estimates,
as many as 45 percent of home health services can be delivered remotely.
A number of peripheral devices can be added to the system to measure health
indicators like blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Kienzle says the types
of patients using the system will drive development of new peripherals and
other technological advances.
The UI is an international leader in telemedicine, generally defined as the
transmission of health information and services using telecommunications technology.
Its National Laboratory for the Study of Rural Telemedicine is funded by contracts
from the National Library of Medicine. Current projects include long-distance
consultations between the UI and remote medical sites, electronic support
for emergency rooms at rural hospitals, and ways to deliver educational resources
to patients in their homes.