'Connected patient' concept: Use IT to close healthcare loop

By Sam Collins
12:00 AM

Cambridge Consultants has unveiled technology to connect patients and their treatment devices, such as inhalers, with healthcare support professionals and a range of online applications.

This "connected patient" technology can allow healthcare specialists to monitor medication adherence, reduce long-term treatment costs, and improve patient access to, and interaction with, healthcare providers.

Cambridge Consultants is this week displaying a Vena-enabled demonstration, implementing the standards selected by the Continua Health Alliance device, at the Respiratory Drug Delivery Europe 2009 (RDD Europe) conference in Lisbon, Portugal, (19-22 May 2009).

"The idea behind the 'connected patient' is to enable seamless data transfer using wireless technologies, from patient monitoring or treatment devices to a patient's healthcare network - a physician's office or online medical support applications, for example - to encourage patients to follow their planned treatment regime," said David Blakey, Head of Drug Delivery at Cambridge Consultants.

"Using connected medical devices to close the loop between a patient and their healthcare provider can facilitate increased compliance, enable better therapy results, and may ultimately reduce long-term treatment costs."

To illustrate its connected patient concept, Cambridge Consultants said it was demonstrating an inhaler concept for improving compliance at RDD (Europe).

Enabled by the company's Vena wireless healthcare device platform, the system connects through a personal computer or smart phone to an online personal healthcare application, and can remind the patient to take their treatment and send compliance information to the relevant personal healthcare portal.

Both patient and healthcare specialist can access the secure information to monitor progress and connect with one another.

Non-patient-specific data from a population of users can also be aggregated to provide medical researchers, insurance providers and even policy makers with information to better evaluate a therapy's efficacy, improve patient outcomes and lower costs.

Pharmaceutical companies with new therapies in Phase IV trials can directly access usage data to demonstrate and document compliance, correlating ongoing use with improved outcomes.

Connecting the patient and their therapy with the broader healthcare community makes possible a number of other new and valuable applications that would support the patient and ensure proper monitoring and treatment.

Michael Dunkley, vice president at Cambridge Consultants' US office, said, "Parents of children or carers caring for seniors can monitor compliance and be alerted if a therapy is not being followed correctly. Both patients and caregivers can also be directly rewarded with appropriate incentives for achieving increased compliance," he said.

"Moreover, they can link into consumer Web 2.0 healthcare communities, perhaps sharing information or getting encouragement from others. The system can also enable remote monitoring to facilitate early detection of potential problems and lead to proactive intervention," said Dunkley. The wireless technology at the core of the connected patient concept is based on Cambridge Consultants' Vena wireless healthcare device platform, which implements the standards selected by the Continua Health Alliance to empower patients to manage health and wellness anytime, anywhere.

It embeds the Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP) optimised for the secure transport of medical data, onto a single chip at an affordable price.

Vena also offers the IEEE11073 standards for compatible exchange of information between health devices, and for this demonstration uses the medication monitor device specialisation.

Cambridge Consultants said it was making Vena available as a reference design at a fixed-price for clients to use as the basis for their own wireless healthcare device development, supported by design and development services as required.

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