HealthNetConnect on the Future of Telemedicine, Remote House Calls

Judging by last month’s Medical Main Street conference held in Troy, MI, health IT has never been hotter in Michigan. Among the many companies looking to compete on this crowded field is a Michigan medical supply company that has developed a remote diagnostic system that is already being used by major local hospitals.

J&B Medical Supply, based in Wixom, MI, is the corporate parent of HealthNetConnect, a telemedicine software company that it spun out six years ago. Corky Davis, HealthNetConnect’s COO, says the company was started in anticipation of the explosion in patient populations that would come as baby boomers aged.

“They’re retiring with chronic diseases with a shortage of healthcare providers,” Davis explains. “A lot of health providers are baby boomers with chronic diseases. At the same time, costs are going up. We wanted to close the gap.”

HealthNetConnect also wanted to get patients involved in their own care. The company identified the management of heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes as the “low-hanging fruit.” According to Davis, hospitals are also eager to allow patients to use telemedicine at home to cut down on post-discharge re-admissions, which is where hospitals lose a lot of money. (If a patient returns less than 30 days after discharge, he says hospitals eat the costs.)

HealthNetConnect offers a plug and play system called VideoDoc, which connects patients to healthcare providers through the patient’s cell phone. The system includes a portable controller that looks a bit like a large tablet and a number of handheld monitoring devices that patients can use to measure things like blood pressure and glucose levels, weight, lung function, pulse, and heart rate.

There are a few simple icons on the home screen that connect patients to clinics and allow them to upload their vitals. Doctors can log in from anywhere to check the data and create custom alerts to manage patient care.

HealthCareConnect also has the capability to do virtual triage, Davis says. HealthNetConnect’s home monitoring system includes a camera developed with Sony that allows doctors use their fingers on a touch screen to control the camera and examine their patients head to toe.

“Doctors have told us that 99 percent of the time, they don’t need to see a patient hands on,” Davis says. “They just need to look at them and read the data.”

However, Davis acknowledges that there are plenty of telemedicine startups attempting to solve the same patient issues as HealthNetConnect. What makes his company stand out? Most of the competing telemedicine software systems, he says, … Next Page »

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