IT-based chronic care pilot targets African Americans

An Overtown street

Information technology underpins a new initiative aimed at boosting the care of people with diabetes.

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Microsoft and Resolute Solutions Corp. joined with Miami officials Wednesday in launching a pilot program in Miami's historic African American Overtown neighborhood. The initiative aims to change the way primary care is delivered and how patients interact with their physicians by using collaborative technologies.

The focus of the study, "Overtown Health Education and Access Through an Information Technology Utilization Project," will be diabetes management. Overtown is located near the Miami Health District, which includes the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. The study is funded by the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Miami with support from the United Health Foundation.

"We are always looking to new technologies to increase the reach of services to our constituents as well as improve their health outcomes, especially for our neediest residents," said Manny Diaz, Miami's mayor. "The Overtown Health Project is another step forward for Elevate Miami, our public/private partnership to offer affordable technology packages that ensure residents and businesses are digitally enabled."

A key facet of the project is the creation of a feedback loop that allows patients to stay in touch with their primary care physicians. Each interaction between doctor and patient will be recorded for a database of compliance measures that, in turn, will be used to promote greater awareness and increased patient responsibility for chronic condition management.

"It is our hope that this pilot will be able to fundamentally change the way that family practice is implemented – moving from a low-tech, high-touch model to a high-tech, high-touch model," said Robert Schwartz, MD, professor and chairman of family medicine and community health at the Miller School of Medicine.

The study will use several integrated Microsoft technologies, including Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, HealthVault and Office Communications Server, coupled with Resolution Solutions' technology development and e-learning services and personal computers and bandwidth donated by the city.

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