Four Leading U.S. Health Systems Sign On To Improve ICU Care With Philips Enterprise Telehealth Programs

Royal Philips announced four leading U.S. health systems have signed multi-year telehealth agreements with Philips to implement its remote intensive care unit (eICU) program.

These new population health management engagements include agreements with Westchester Medical Center Health Network in New York, Baptist Memorial Health Care in Tennessee and BJC HealthCare in Missouri and will further extend Philips’ eICU reach by hundreds of beds and thousands of ICU cases each year. Over the past 15 years, the program has been implemented in more than 50 health systems and 500 hospitals in the U.S. to deliver care throughout 3.5 million ICU patient stays [1].

“As health systems seek to improve patient outcomes while lowering costs, healthcare leaders often first look at the ICU since it can account for 50 percent of mortality and a third of hospital costs,” said Derek Smith, General Manager, Hospital to Home at Philips. “The level of care required by these patients demands continuous monitoring. The explosive growth of telehealth in recent years proves the need for these unique delivery models that provide the best care, while addressing the demand to reduce costs.”

The conditions of ICU patients can deteriorate rapidly. The eICU program’s telehealth team of remote specialists continuously monitor patients to support the bedside team and proactively identify issues and intervene before they become significant problems. The eICU telehealth team has access to Philips advanced analytics that can process large amounts of data from more than 150 patients, along with data visualization tools that allow clinicians to focus on those patients who need their attention first.

“Ensuring the best care possible for patients takes on a new meaning when their condition is critical,” said Corey Scurlock, M.D., Medical Director for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network’s eHealth Center. “While our on-site staff is exceptionally capable, the additional support that a specialized telehealth program like Philips offers empowers us to oversee a larger population and have a deeper insight into those at the greatest risk of needing intervention immediately.”

Ultimately, this type of proactive care can help improve clinical and financial outcomes. Compared to patients receiving usual ICU care, patients who received ICU care from a hospital with an eICU program were 26% more likely to survive and discharged from the ICU 20% faster [2]. Additionally, on average, tele-ICUs result in USD 5,000 in cost savings per patient [3], and USD 1.2 million in savings due to reduced transfers [4].

As the population in the U.S. ages, demand for critical care is rising at a time when the industry is facing a chronic shortage of intensivists. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, the intensivist shortage will become increasingly challenging, with supply meeting only 22 percent of the demand for services by 2020 [5]. Consequently, ICU patients are often cared for by non-specialists.

Telehealth enables intensivists to cover wider geographies and provide access to care to more people, while patients stay in their local hospitals. This helps them avoid both transportation costs and the stress of transferring to other critical care centers, while still giving them access to the specialized care they need.

The Philips eICU program is part of a suite of enterprise telehealth solutions delivered by Philips Hospital to Home to help improve outcomes, provide better value and expand access to care. Programs help address multiple cohorts within a population ranging from highest cost patients with intensive ambulatory care and acute needs, to discharge transition and chronic patient management, to prevention and wellness for the general population. These programs use a proactive care model to clinically transform the delivery of care to address growing clinician shortages while improving patient outcomes.

[1]	Data are rounded figures based on a query of the eICU Research Institute database conducted in December 2015.
[2]	Lilly CM, et al. A Multi-center Study of ICU Telemedicine Reengineering of Adult Critical Care. CHEST. 2014 Mar 1; 145(3): 500-7.
[3]	TeleICUproject with University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center. November 17, 2008.
[4]	Zawada, et al.  Impact of an Intensive Care Unit Telemedicine Program on a Rural Health Care System. Postgrad Med J, 2009; 121(3):160-70.
[5]	Angus DC, et al. Current and Projected Workforce Requirements for Care of the Critically Ill and Patients With Pulmonary Disease. JAMA. 2000 Dec 6; 284(21): 2762-70.
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New England Telehealth Consortium Brings 200th Healthcare Location onto Network

The New England Telehealth Consortium (NETC), which is working with FairPoint Communications to link healthcare facilities in northern New England to the NETC network, recently announced its 200th connection.

NETC is a federally funded consortium of healthcare providers whose mandate is to create a shared network among rural and urban healthcare facilities across the region. When connected to the NETC network, providers will be able to deliver remote trauma consultation and expansive telemedicine by linking more than 400 primarily rural health care facilities – including hospitals, behavioral health sites, and community health care centers – in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine – to urban hospitals and health clinics throughout New England.

"We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made connecting more than 200 facilities to the NETC network," said Jim Rogers, the founder of NETC and president of ProInfoNet, the company managing the implementation of the NETC network. "We offer health care providers a sustainable, quality broadband network that will greatly improve the capability and efficiency of healthcare in northern New England, while saving millions of dollars. The network created will help all these institutions to share information that will ultimately benefit the patients all across the region."

NETC – which is based in Bangor, Maine – received a $24.6 million Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care Pilot Program award to bring telemedicine to the region. The NETC award was the largest award issued by the FCC under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program. "FairPoint has invested more than $200 million in communication infrastructure and technology to upgrade our state-of-the-art fiber network in northern New England and we are leveraging this network to serve the technology needs of the consortium," said Mike Reed, Maine state president for FairPoint Communications. "This network is designed and built as a data network to move large files quickly and efficiently. It delivers a variety of reliable online services that provide faster ways to communicate by offering high bandwidth choices that are both economical and reliable."

NETC participants are receiving upgrades and improvements to their broadband capabilities and connections while paying only 15 percent of the costs. Healthcare facilities linked to NETC's network can instantly share potentially life-saving information and will save millions of dollars in annual technology costs. "The NETC network will enable patients, especially in rural areas to receive top quality care through enhanced telemedicine and information sharing," said Brian Thibeau, NETC president. "The network will offer health care providers significant cost savings, plus quick and convenient access to the latest research and medical advances."

A list of the facilities that have been connected to the NETC network can be found at: http://www.netelc.org/sites.html.

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NTCA CEO Supports Commissioner Rosenworcel’s Call to Expand Telemedicine Services

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s remarks at the American Telemedicine Association’s Federal Policy Summit in support of expanding telemedicine services for American consumers and veterans.

“I couldn’t agree more with Commissioner Rosenworcel regarding the greater need for telemedicine services and reliable, modern broadband networks to support them. The benefits of these services are huge for rural Americans, who in many cases are required to travel great distances to receive medical treatment. With the introduction of technologies such as remote diagnostics and in-home monitoring, folks in rural America are able to give and receive treatments more efficiently, saving money and time and often improving the quality of care.

“However, these services are still few and far between in many rural areas. Patients still lack access to the broadband networks needed to support remote in-home health care. Small, independent telecommunications providers are working every day to build the broadband future for rural America, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the commission and other federal policymakers to bring high-speed connections and accompanying health and economic benefits to all Americans—no matter where they live.”

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition,

NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.

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Intouch Health Announces New fda 510(k) Clearance For Its Remote Presence Acute Care Telemedicine Devices

InTouch Health, the world's premier provider of acute care telemedicine solutions, has received a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance with expanded indications for use for its range of Remote Presence devices which includes RP-7i®, RP-Lite®, RP-Vantage® and RP-Xpress® as well as VisitOR1® which is sold by and is a registered trademark of Karl Storz. The expanded indications for use clear InTouch Health's Remote Presence devices for active patient monitoring in high acuity environments where immediate clinical action may be required. The clearance specifically allows InTouch Health's Remote Presence devices to be used for pre-, peri-operative and post-surgical, cardiovascular, neurological, pre-natal, psychological and critical care assessments and examinations.

This clearance is part of InTouch Health's regulatory commitment to increase its level of compliance with the FDA February 14, 2011 announcement regarding Medical Device Data Systems (MDDS). The MDDS final rule provides clarification on the critical difference between the handling of medical device data intended simply for documentation versus that of active patient monitoring. The FDA indicated in its press release that MDDS classified devices are intended only to transfer, store, convert from one format to another according to preset specifications, or to display medical device data. The Final Rule further stipulates that as an FDA class I device, an MDDS is not intended to be used in connection with active patient monitoring (i.e. real time, active or online patient monitoring).

Any device that transmits, stores, converts, or displays medical device data that is intended to be relied upon in deciding to take immediate clinical action by a health care professional is not an MDDS. Active patient monitoring solutions, such as InTouch Health's telemedicine devices, are primarily FDA class II medical devices requiring more stringent manufacturer controls. The MDDS final rule is published in the Code of Federal Regulations 21 Part 880, Docket No. FDA-2008-N-0106. The MDDS final rule also states if a third-party company or hospital (i) develops its own software protocols or interfaces that have an intended use consistent with an MDDS, or (ii) develops, modifies, or creates a system from multiple components of devices and uses it clinically for functions covered by the MDDS classification, then that entity would also be considered a device manufacturer and be subject to FDA regulations.

“With these expanded indications for use, InTouch Health's platform of telemedicine devices now has clearance for active patient monitoring in high acuity clinical environments with specific language clarifying the allowance of clinical applications of importance to customers in our core TeleStroke and TeleICU markets,” said Dr. Yulun Wang, Chairman and CEO of InTouch Health. “This clearance raises the bar for regulatory compliance in acute care markets and we are proud to have achieved this regulatory objective. We are absolutely committed to stringent regulatory compliance, and we are pleased to provide customers the assurance of knowing that our telemedicine solutions have withstood vigorous testing and are fully compliant with FDA regulations.”

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Federal Changes to Improve Telemedicine Promised at ATA Policy Summit

Expect big things for telemedicine policy this year. That was the message from speakers the ATA Federal Telemedicine Policy Summit, held last week in Washington, DC. The event, organized by the American Telemedicine Association, revealed growing federal support for telemedicine services and technologies.

It featured an impressive line-up of speakers, including members of Congress, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as an array of leading patient and provider advocates.

Over 250 attendees from across the spectrum of healthcare and technology participated in the event. “The Summit set a new standard, both in terms of the high profile of the speakers, as well as overall attendance,” said Ed Brown, MD, President of the American Telemedicine Association. “I think this reflects a growing realization—both within government and outside the beltway—that telemedicine is a vital component for quality, accessible and cost-effective healthcare.” For the first time, leaders from both sides of the aisle, agency officials and representatives from consumer and industry groups expressed a strong consensus that the federal government should do more to support the deployment of telemedicine and mHealth.

Despite their differing political ideologies and interests, there was a clear consensus amongst Summit speakers about this opinion as well as shared strategies for achieving their common objective. Complete program information from the ATA Federal Telemedicine Policy Summit is available at: http://www.americantelemed.org/summit. “This is a real paradigm shift for telemedicine,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “ATA is no longer the lone voice advocating for telemedicine; now we’re coordinating public and private stakeholders and leading a broad coalition for the improvement of healthcare through telemedicine. This development bids well, both for our industry and, more importantly, for patients across America who will benefit from telemedicine technologies.”

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit http://www.americantelemed.org.

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AT&T 4G LTE Expands In Copiah County

AT&T* has expanded its 4G LTE network in the Jackson area to include parts of Copiah County bringing more customers the latest generation of wireless network technology. AT&T launched 4G LTE last year in Jackson, and the expanded coverage is part of its ongoing rollout across the market. AT&T 4G LTE provides several benefits, including:

  • Faster speeds. LTE technology is capable of delivering speeds faster than many other mobile Internet technologies. Customers can stream, download, upload and game faster than ever before.
  • Cool new devices. AT&T offers several LTE-compatible devices, including new AT&T 4G LTE smartphones and tablets. -- Faster response time. LTE technology offers lower latency, or the processing time it takes to move data through a network, such as how long it takes to start downloading a webpage or file once you've sent the request. Lower latency helps to improve services like mobile gaming, two-way video calling and telemedicine.
  • More efficient use of spectrum. Wireless spectrum is a finite resource, and LTE uses spectrum more efficiently than other technologies, creating more space to carry data traffic and services and to deliver a better network experience.

"Improving our local communities is my top priority," said Representative Greg Holloway. "It is always great to see improved infrastructure that will help draw economic development to the region." "We continue to see demand for mobile Internet skyrocket, and our 4G LTE network in Copiah County responds to what customers want from their mobile experience -- more, faster, on the best devices," said Mayo Flynt, president, AT&T Mississippi.

AT&T's 4G Network

AT&T's innovation and investment have resulted in the nation's largest 4G network, covering more than 292 million people with ultra-fast speeds and a more consistent user experience. Our 4G LTE network delivered faster average download and upload speeds than any of our competitors in PCWorld/TechHive's most recent 20-market speed tests.

AT&T's 4G LTE network delivers speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G, as well as multiple innovations that optimize the network for performance. Our network's radio components are placed close to the antenna at most cell sites, instead of inside the base station, which helps minimize power loss between the base station and antenna and, in turn, improves the performance of our 4G LTE network.

The network also is designed with its core elements distributed across the country, which helps reduce latency, or the delay when using the Internet, because your request isn't traveling as far. Even as AT&T continues to expand its 4G LTE coverage, customers can get 4G speeds outside of 4G LTE areas on our 4G HSPA+ network, unlike some competitors, where smartphone customers may fall back to slower 3G technologies when outside of LTE coverage. AT&T's focus to deliver the best possible mobile Internet experience goes beyond 4G to embrace additional connection technologies.

AT&T operates the nation's largest Wi-Fi network**** including more than 32,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots at popular restaurants, hotels, bookstores and retailers, and provides access to more than 402,000 hotspots globally through roaming agreements. Most AT&T smartphone customers get access to our entire national Wi-Fi network at no additional cost, and Wi-Fi usage doesn't count against customers' monthly wireless data plans. AT&T also is a leading developer of Distributed Antenna Systems, which utilize multiple small antennas to maximize coverage and speed within stadiums, convention centers, office buildings, hotels and other areas where traditional coverage methods are challenging.

Over the past five years, AT&T invested nearly $98 billion into its operations across the country. Since 2008, AT&T has invested more capital into the U.S. economy than any other public company. In a July 2012 report, the Progressive Policy Institute ranked AT&T No. 1 on its list of U.S. "Investment Heroes."

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. ** Limited 4G LTE availability in select markets. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. Claim based on a comparison of U.S. national carriers' average 4G LTE download speeds for Android(TM) and Windows smartphones and iPhone 5. 4G speeds not available everywhere. *** 4G LTE device and data plan required. Learn more about 4G LTE at att.com/network. ****A Wi-Fi enabled device required. Other restrictions apply. See www.attwifi.com for details and locations.

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97 Counties to Lose Telehealth Medicare Benefits

97 Counties to Lose Telehealth Medicare Benefits

Medicare beneficiaries in 97 counties—across 36 states and territories—are slated to lose telehealth benefits because of updated federal delineations of Standards Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The American Telemedicine Association urges Congress to amend federal statute and ensure that existing beneficiaries will not lose coverage for these life-saving services. 

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Healthcare IT and Medical Hospital Technology Breaking News

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University of Chicago Medical Center Expansion Includes Conversion to Omnicell Automation Systems for Pharmacy and Patient Care Areas

Omnicell Solutions Chosen to Improve Efficiency and Allow More Time for Patient Care

Omnicell, Inc. (NASDAQ:OMCL), a leading provider of medication and supply management solutions and analytics software for healthcare facilities, today announced that the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) will implement a decentralized drug dispensing model using Omnicell solutions. The installation will include Omnicell Inventory Management Carousels with WorkflowRx™ software for comprehensive medication inventory management, as well as Omnicell automated dispensing systems to help streamline pharmacy and nursing workflow efficiency. The 532-bed UCMC is rapidly growing to better serve patients, and will open its newest hospital pavilion in 2013. The expansion will feature the introduction of the new Omnicell G4 platform into nursing units throughout the Medical Center. Omnicell’s new G4 platform features a single unified database across the continuum of medications maintained in the hospital’s automated dispensing cabinets and mobile medication systems, thereby decreasing the risk of human error and improving pharmacy workflow.

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PMI Private Medical Insurance Magazine

Medical Insurance for International Mobile Workers: International Medical Insurance and Health Plans that deliver Value and the correct Cover for International Assignments.

Expatriates, Leisure and Business travelers all benefit from health plans and medical insurance for internationalcompany assignments. Health insurance for international coverage and PMI; Private Medical Insurance must cover any type of situation you may face abroad. A Medical health insurance policy for international travel may be provided y a number of private medical insurance underwriters like Bupa International, Allianz, AXA PPP, Cigna International or Interglobal.

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Make sure you read the international medical insurance cover and health insurance policy before you buy it to make sure it will cover you for all your international health insurance and private medical insurance needs. A health plan that delivers value may include additional services and value like travel assistance and travel insurance. Private medical insurance and international health medical insurance underwriters have become more innovative of late offering employee assistance programs, home healthcare monitoring, mobile applications and online information and healthcare insurance advice and guides. Medical Insurance for international coverage is a complex, service led industry so make sure you pick the correct PMI medical insurance company for medical insurance working abroad.

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