How it works: Various technologies enable patients to exchange health information with caregivers. Patients use the Intel Health Guide system to video conference with health-care professionals and receive videos about diet and exercise. Patients can also attach a blood pressure cuff or other devices using a Bluetooth wireless link and relay vital signs to a nurse. T+ Medical offers more targeted products, such as a diabetes management program that runs on a cell phone and helps patients track and report blood glucose levels.
Who is doing it: Several health-care providers are testing or using these devices. Meridian Health is testing the T+ device within its four New Jersey hospitals. It will also evaluate the Intel Health Guide to see how it compares with the Honeywell HomMed, a similar device that it has been using for two years. A device like HomMed can reduce the number of times a cardiac patient has to be readmitted, from three times a year to once a year, says Sandra Elliott, Meridian's director of consumer technology and service development.
Growth potential: Hard to be sure, as some devices are still undergoing market and clinical trials. Much may also depend on insurance providers which, Elliott notes, are starting to provide reimbursements (most patients using home care devices today are on Medicare, so hospitals are reimbursed by the government).
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