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1.  Feasibility of Remote Real-Time Guidance of a Cardiac Examination Performed by Novices Using a Pocket-Sized Ultrasound Device 
Background. The potential of pocket-sized ultrasound devices (PUDs) to improve global healthcare delivery is limited by the lack of a suitable imaging protocol and trained users. Therefore, we investigated the feasibility of performing a brief, evidence-based cardiac limited ultrasound exam (CLUE) through wireless guidance of novice users. Methods. Three trainees applied PUDs on 27 subjects while directed by an off-site cardiologist to obtain a CLUE to screen for LV systolic dysfunction (LVSD), LA enlargement (LAE), ultrasound lung comets (ULC+), and elevated CVP (eCVP). Real-time remote audiovisual guidance and interpretation by the cardiologist were performed using the iPhone 4/iPod (FaceTime, Apple, Inc.) attached to the PUD and transmitted data wirelessly. Accuracy and technical quality of transmitted images were compared to on-site, gold-standard echo thresholds. Results. Novice versus sonographer imaging yielded technically adequate views in 122/135 (90%) versus 130/135 (96%) (P < 0.05). CLUE's combined SN, SP, and ACC were 0.67, 0.96, and 0.90. Technical adequacy (%) and accuracy for each abnormality (n) were LVSD (85%, 0.93, n = 5), LAE (89%, 0.74, n = 16), ULC+ (100%, 0.94, n = 5), and eCVP (78%, 0.91, n = 1). Conclusion. A novice can perform the CLUE using PUD when wirelessly guided by an expert. This method could facilitate PUD use for off-site bedside medical decision making and triaging of patients.
doi:10.1155/2013/627230
PMCID: PMC3762173  PMID: 24024032
2.  Asynchronous and Synchronous Teleconsultation for Diabetes Care: A Systematic Literature Review 
Aim
A systematic literature review, covering publications from 1994 to 2009, was carried out to determine the effects of teleconsultation regarding clinical, behavioral, and care coordination outcomes of diabetes care compared to usual care. Two types of teleconsultation were distinguished: (1) asynchronous teleconsultation for monitoring and delivering feedback via email and cell phone, automated messaging systems, or other equipment without face-to-face contact; and (2) synchronous teleconsultation that involves real-time, face-to-face contact (image and voice) via videoconferencing equipment (television, digital camera, webcam, videophone, etc.) to connect caregivers and one or more patients simultaneously, e.g., for the purpose of education.
Methods
Electronic databases were searched for relevant publications about asynchronous and synchronous tele-consultation [Medline, Picarta, Psychinfo, ScienceDirect, Telemedicine Information Exchange, Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science, Google Scholar]. Reference lists of identified publications were hand searched. The contribution to diabetes care was examined for clinical outcomes [e.g., hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), dietary values, blood pressure, quality of life], for behavioral outcomes (patient-caregiver interaction, self-care), and for care coordination outcomes (usability of technology, cost-effectiveness, transparency of guidelines, equity of access to care). Randomized controlled trials with HbA1c as an outcome were pooled using standard meta-analytical methods.
Results
Of 2060 publications identified, 90 met inclusion criteria for electronic communication between (groups of) caregivers and patients with type 1 and 2 or gestational diabetes. Studies that evaluated teleconsultation not particularly aimed at diabetes were excluded, as were those that described interventions aimed solely at clinical improvements (e.g., HbA1c or lipid profiles).
In 63 of 90 interventions, the interaction had an asynchronous teleconsultation character, in 18 cases interaction was synchronously (videoconferencing), and 9 involved a combination of synchronous with asynchronous interaction. Most of the reported improvements concerned clinical values (n = 49), self-care (n = 46), and satisfaction with technology (n = 43). A minority of studies demonstrated improvements in patient-caregiver interactions (n = 28) and cost reductions (n = 27). Only a few studies reported enhanced quality of life (n = 12), transparency of health care (n = 7), and improved equity in care delivery (n = 4). Asynchronous and synchronous applications appeared to differ in the type of contribution they made to diabetes care compared to usual care: asynchronous applications were more successful in improving clinical values and self-care, whereas synchronous applications led to relatively high usability of technology and cost reduction in terms of lower travel costs for both patients and care providers and reduced unscheduled visits compared to usual care. The combined applications (n = 9) scored best according to quality of life (22.2%). No differences between synchronous and asynchronous teleconsultation could be observed regarding the positive effect of technology on the quality of patient-provider interaction. Both types of applications resulted in intensified contact and increased frequency of transmission of clinical values with respect to usual care. Fifteen of the studies contained HbA1c data that permitted pooling. There was significant statistical heterogeneity among the pooled randomized controlled trials (χ2 = 96.46, P < 0.001). The pooled reduction in HbA1c was not statically significant (weighted mean difference -0.10; 95% confidence interval -0.39 to 0.18).
Conclusion
The included studies suggest that both synchronous and asynchronous teleconsultations for diabetes care are feasible, cost-effective, and reliable. However, it should be noted that many of the included studies showed no significant differences between control (usual care) and intervention groups. This might be due to the diversity and lack of quality in study designs (e.g., inaccurate or incompletely reported sample size calculations). Future research needs quasi-experimental study designs and a holistic approach that focuses on multilevel determinants (clinical, behavioral, and care coordination) to promote self-care and proactive collaborations between health care professionals and patients to manage diabetes care. Also, a participatory design approach is needed in which target users are involved in the development of cost-effective and personalized interventions. Currently, too often technology is developed within the scope of the existing structures of the health care system. Including patients as part of the design team stimulates and enables designers to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective, leading to applications that are better tailored to patients' needs.
PMCID: PMC2901046  PMID: 20513335
chronic diseases; diabetes mellitus; telemedicine; remote consultation; teleconsultation; videoconferencing; telemonitoring
3.  Design of a randomized, non-inferiority trial to evaluate the reliability of videoconferencing for remote consultation of diabetes 
Background
An estimated 366 million people are living with diabetes worldwide and it is predicted that its prevalence will increase to 552 million by 2030. Management of this disease and its complications is a challenge for many countries. Optimal glycaemic control is necessary to minimize complications, but less than 70% of diabetic patients achieve target levels of blood glucose, partly due to poor access to qualified health care providers. Telemedicine has the potential to improve access to health care, especially for rural and remote residents. Video teleconsultation, a real-time (or synchronous) mode of telemedicine, is gaining more popularity around the world through recent improvements in digital telecommunications. If video consultation is to be offered as an alternative to face-to-face consultation in diabetes assessment and management, then it is important to demonstrate that this can be achieved without loss of clinical fidelity. This paper describes the protocol of a randomised controlled trail for assessing the reliability of remote video consultation for people with diabetes.
Methods/Design
A total of 160 people with diabetes will be randomised into either a Telemedicine or a Reference group. Participants in the Reference group will receive two sequential face-to-face consultations whereas in the Telemedicine group one consultation will be conducted face-to-face and the other via videoconference. The primary outcome measure will be a change in the patient’s medication. Secondary outcome measures will be findings in physical examination, detecting complications, and patient satisfaction. A difference of less than 20% in the aggregated level of agreement between the two study groups will be used to identify if videoconference is non-inferior to traditional mode of clinical care (face-to-face).
Discussion
Despite rapid growth in application of telemedicine in a variety of medical specialities, little is known about the reliability of videoconferencing for remote consultation of people with diabetes. Results of this proposed study will provide evidence of the reliability of specialist consultation offered by videoconference for people with diabetes.
Trial registration number
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000315819.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-11
PMCID: PMC3925960  PMID: 24528569
Diabetes; Telemedicine; Remote consultation; Videoconferencing; Video teleconsultation; Video consultation; Video visit
4.  Wireless Control of Smartphones with Tongue Motion Using Tongue Drive Assistive Technology 
Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a noninvasive, wireless and wearable assistive technology that helps people with severe disabilities control their environments using their tongue motion. TDS translates specific tongue gestures to commands by detecting a small permanent magnetic tracer on the users’ tongue. We have linked the TDS to a smartphone (iPhone/iPod Touch) with a customized wireless module, added to the iPhone. We also migrated and ran the TDS sensor signal processing algorithm and graphical user interface on the iPhone in real time. The TDS-iPhone interface was evaluated by four able-bodied subjects for dialing 10-digit phone numbers using the standard telephone keypad and three methods of prompting the numbers: visual, auditory, and cognitive. Preliminary results showed that the interface worked quite reliably at a rate of 15.4 digits per minute, on average, with negligible errors.
doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2010.5626294
PMCID: PMC3128806  PMID: 21096049
5.  Tongue-Operated Assistive Technology with Access to Common Smartphone Applications via Bluetooth Link 
Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a wireless and wearable assistive technology (AT) that enables people with severe disabilities to control their computers, wheelchairs, and electronic gadgets using their tongue motion. We developed the TDS to control smartphone's (iPhone/iPod Touch) built-in and downloadable apps with a customized Bluetooth mouse module by emulating finger taps on the touchscreen. The TDS-iPhone Bluetooth mouse interface was evaluated by four able-bodied subjects to complete a scenario consisting of seven tasks, which were randomly ordered by using touch on the iPhone screen with index finger, a computer mouse on iPhone, and TDS-iPhone Bluetooth mouse interface with tongue motion. Preliminary results show that the average completion times of a scenario with touch, mouse, and TDS are 165.6 ± 14.50 s, 186.1 ± 15.37 s, and 651.6 ± 113.4 s, respectively, showing that the TDS is 84.37% and 81.16% slower than touch and mouse for speed of typing with negligible errors. Overall, considering the limited number of commands and unfamiliarity of the subjects with the TDS, we achieved acceptable results for hands-free functionality.
doi:10.1109/EMBC.2012.6346857
PMCID: PMC4083017  PMID: 23366818
6.  Telemedicine System Using a High-Speed Network: Past, Present, and Future 
Gut and Liver  2009;3(4):247-251.
There is no doubt that telecommunication saves a great deal of time and expense when exchanging information, and recent technological advances have increased its popularity in business and educational applications. Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine in which medical information is transferred via the Internet or another communication network for the purpose of consultations, and sometimes also for remote medical procedures or examinations. A telemedicine system can also be applied to medical education. Many doctors and medical students could benefit from telementoring and tele-education based on videoconferencing systems. However, telemedicine in general has not yet become popular in clinical practice or medical education. In our university, we have used a telemedicine system to educate doctors and medical students since 2003. Since our first telemedical conference with Kyushu University Hospital on February 12, 2003 when we have regularly performed telemedical conferences. Here we introduce a general methodology for telemedicine, our experiences of medical conferencing using telemedicine, and future possible directions.
doi:10.5009/gnl.2009.3.4.247
PMCID: PMC2852732  PMID: 20431756
Telemedicine; Digital video transport system
7.  A Smartphone Client-Server Teleradiology System for Primary Diagnosis of Acute Stroke 
Background
Recent advances in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke have made rapid acquisition, visualization, and interpretation of images a key factor for positive patient outcomes. We have developed a new teleradiology system based on a client-server architecture that enables rapid access to interactive advanced 2-D and 3-D visualization on a current generation smartphone device (Apple iPhone or iPod Touch, or an Android phone) without requiring patient image data to be stored on the device. Instead, a server loads and renders the patient images, then transmits a rendered frame to the remote device.
Objective
Our objective was to determine if a new smartphone client-server teleradiology system is capable of providing accuracies and interpretation times sufficient for diagnosis of acute stroke.
Methods
This was a retrospective study. We obtained 120 recent consecutive noncontrast computed tomography (NCCT) brain scans and 70 computed tomography angiogram (CTA) head scans from the Calgary Stroke Program database. Scans were read by two neuroradiologists, one on a medical diagnostic workstation and an iPod or iPhone (hereafter referred to as an iOS device) and the other only on an iOS device. NCCT brain scans were evaluated for early signs of infarction, which includes early parenchymal ischemic changes and dense vessel sign, and to exclude acute intraparenchymal hemorrhage and stroke mimics. CTA brain scans were evaluated for any intracranial vessel occlusion. The interpretations made on an iOS device were compared with those made at a workstation. The total interpretation times were recorded for both platforms. Interrater agreement was assessed. True positives, true negatives, false positives, and false negatives were obtained, and sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting the abnormalities on the iOS device were computed.
Results
The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting intraparenchymal hemorrhage were 100% using the iOS device with a perfect interrater agreement (kappa = 1). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting acute parenchymal ischemic change were 94.1%, 100%, and 98.09% respectively for reader 1 and 97.05%, 100%, and 99.04% for reader 2 with nearly perfect interrater agreement (kappa = .8). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting dense vessel sign were 100%, 95.4%, and 96.19% respectively for reader 1 and 72.2%, 100%, and 95.23% for reader 2 using the iOS device with a good interrater agreement (kappa = .69). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of detecting vessel occlusion on CT angiography scans were 94.4%, 100%, and 98.46% respectively for both readers using the iOS device, with perfect interrater agreement (kappa = 1). No significant difference (P < .05) was noted in the interpretation time between the workstation and iOS device.
Conclusion
The smartphone client-server teleradiology system appears promising and may have the potential to allow urgent management decisions in acute stroke. However, this study was retrospective, involved relatively few patient studies, and only two readers. Generalizing conclusions about its clinical utility, especially in other diagnostic use cases, should not be made until additional studies are performed.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1732
PMCID: PMC3221380  PMID: 21550961
Acute stroke; teleradiology; computed tomography; mhealth; mobile phone
8.  TME3/347: A Teledentistry Consultation System and Continuing Dental Education via Internet 
Journal of Medical Internet Research  1999;1(Suppl 1):e110.
Introduction
A Web-based teledentistry consultation system has been developed for the US Department of Defence dental clinics at various sites in Europe and the United States. This system is being used in over 55 dental clinics in Europe and 18 US Army dental clinics in the US. The system enables referring dentists to send consults, including dental images or radiographs to specialists, via Internet. Specialists review the consults and provide the diagnosis and treatment. This paper focuses on the implementation of this system, and focuses on the various areas in dentistry where this system is being currently utilized. The emphasis of this project has been on development of a scalable and expandable Internet-based teledentistry consultation system. The results of this study will expand the knowledge base of the technologies and clinical practices required changing the needs of modern, military dental care systems. One of the goals of the teledentistry project is to increase patient access to quality dental care. The other goal is to establish a cost effective teledentistry system.
Methods
A teledentistry workstation consists of a laptop, a digital camera and requires Internet access. The referring dentist logs into a secure Web server, fills in the patient's demographics, chief complaints, provisional diagnosis information, attaches dental radiographs and sends it to the specialist of his choice. The specialist will receive an Email and the data is then sent to a database server. The specialist subsequently logs into the secure Web server and reviews the consult, radiographs and suggests his diagnosis and treatment.
Results
The data collected on the database server shows an average of 40 consults per month. Currently, referrals to oral surgery have the highest number of consults, followed by prosthodontics and periodontics. An economic analysis has been conducted on the data that has been collected using this system. The results from this analysis show a return on investment within 21.5 months of deployment.
Discussion
Videoconferencing, Web and Internet based technologies may be used to implement a user-friendly teledentistry solution. There are many advantages in using these technologies for retrieving dental information. Some of these advantages are:
Ease of use and development
Platform independence to the end user
Cost-effectiveness
By providing dentists with easy, cost-effective access to specialists, it might be possible to improve the quality of care. This is achieved by facilitating the access to better and timely information to the dentists for better decision making and better communication between them and their patients. In the end, a telemedicine system is a tool for practising medicine: the science and art of healing.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1.suppl1.e110
PMCID: PMC1761814
Dental Informatics; Teledentistry; Dentistry; Internet; Education
9.  Teledermatology 
The seemingly ubiquitous use and acceptance of mobile, Wi-Fi-enabled, camera-ready tablets are offering dermatological clinicians a new telemedicine tool and collaborative learning platform, which may come to replace the traditional practice of forwarding digital still photographs to colleagues for consultation. The decreased cost and the increased ease of use of newer generation tablets are removing some of the participation barriers previously experienced by some dermatology professionals. Prior to full clinical implementation within the authors’ practice in 2011, they tested the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-approved Apple FaceTime® videoconference platform and found it to be an affordable, convenient, and effective collaboration and consultation tool that may augment andragogical postgraduate medical learning.
PMCID: PMC3509879  PMID: 23198011
10.  Comparison of the glidescope®, flexible fibreoptic intubating bronchoscope, iPhone modified bronchoscope, and the Macintosh laryngoscope in normal and difficult airways: a manikin study 
BMC Anesthesiology  2014;14:10.
Background
Smart phone technology is becoming increasingly integrated into medical care.
Our study compared an iPhone modified flexible fibreoptic bronchoscope as an intubation aid and clinical teaching tool with an unmodified bronchoscope, Glidescope® and Macintosh laryngoscope in a simulated normal and difficult airway scenario.
Methods
Sixty three anaesthesia providers, 21 consultant anaesthetists, 21 registrars and 21 anaesthetic nurses attempted to intubate a MegaCode Kelly™ manikin, comparing a normal and difficult airway scenario for each device. Primary endpoints were time to view the vocal cords (TVC), time to successful intubation (TSI) and number of failed intubations with each device. Secondary outcomes included participant rated device usability and preference for each scenario. Advantages and disadvantages of the iPhone modified bronchoscope were also discussed.
Results
There was no significant difference in TVC with the iPhone modified bronchoscope compared with the Macintosh blade (P = 1.0) or unmodified bronchoscope (P = 0.155). TVC was significantly shorter with the Glidescope compared with the Macintosh blade (P < 0.001), iPhone (P < 0.001) and unmodified bronchoscope (P = 0.011). The iPhone bronchoscope TSI was significantly longer than all other devices (P < 0.001). There was no difference between anaesthetic consultant or registrar TVC (P = 1.0) or TSI (P = 0.252), with both being less than the nurses (P < 0.001). Consultant anaesthetists and nurses had a higher intubation failure rate with the iPhone modified bronchoscope compared with the registrars. Although more difficult to use, similar proportions of consultants (14/21), registrars (15/21) and nurses (15/21) indicated that they would be prepared to use the iPhone modified bronchoscope in their clinical practice. The Glidescope was rated easiest to use (P < 0.001) and was the preferred device by all participants for the difficult airway scenario.
Conclusions
The iPhone modified bronchoscope, in its current configuration, was found to be more difficult to use compared with the Glidescope® and unmodified bronchoscope; however it offered several advantages for teaching fibreoptic intubation technique when video-assisted bronchoscopy was unavailable.
doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-10
PMCID: PMC3945614  PMID: 24575885
11.  Otolaryngology consultations by real-time telemedicine. 
The Ulster Medical Journal  2002;71(1):26-29.
We aimed to assess the value of real-time telemedicine using low cost videoconferencing equipment for otorhinolaryngology consultations. A general practitioner, using low cost videoconferencing equipment, presented patients to an otorhinolaryngologist. After history taking and clinical examination, investigations were requested if required and a diagnosis and management plan formulated. The patients were then seen, by the same otorhinolaryngologist, for a conventional face-to-face consultation. Differences in the history, clinical examination and investigation requests were reported. The accuracy of diagnosis and correlation of management plans between the two consultations were analysed. Forty-three patients were admitted to the study but one, a young child, refused examination either by tele-link or the conventional approach and had to be excluded. There were thus 42 patients with 55 diagnoses included in the trial, 26 (62%) females and 16 (38%) males. Age range was 5 months to 70 years. There was no difficulty with any of the patients in obtaining an accurate history and ordering investigations, if required, via the telelink. Clinical examination during the tele-link consultation was inadequate for eight out of the first 20 patients, resulting in a wrong diagnosis in three patients and a missed diagnosis in five patients. All of the next 22 patients had a correct diagnosis and management plan. Comparison of data from the two types of consultation showed that a correct diagnosis and management plan was made in 34 patients. Low cost real-time telemedicine is a useful technique, providing reliable otorhinolaryngology consultations in a general practice setting. However initial difficulties due to inexperience in using the equipment need to be overcome.
PMCID: PMC2475361  PMID: 12137160
12.  The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001362.
Caroline Free and colleagues systematically review a fast-moving field, that of the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to healthcare consumers, and conclude that high-quality, adequately powered trials of optimized interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Background
Mobile technologies could be a powerful media for providing individual level support to health care consumers. We conducted a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to health care consumers.
Methods and Findings
We searched for all controlled trials of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health care consumers using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, UK NHS HTA (Jan 1990–Sept 2010). Two authors extracted data on allocation concealment, allocation sequence, blinding, completeness of follow-up, and measures of effect. We calculated effect estimates and used random effects meta-analysis. We identified 75 trials. Fifty-nine trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to improve disease management and 26 trials investigated their use to change health behaviours. Nearly all trials were conducted in high-income countries. Four trials had a low risk of bias. Two trials of disease management had low risk of bias; in one, antiretroviral (ART) adherence, use of text messages reduced high viral load (>400 copies), with a relative risk (RR) of 0.85 (95% CI 0.72–0.99), but no statistically significant benefit on mortality (RR 0.79 [95% CI 0.47–1.32]). In a second, a PDA based intervention increased scores for perceived self care agency in lung transplant patients. Two trials of health behaviour management had low risk of bias. The pooled effect of text messaging smoking cessation support on biochemically verified smoking cessation was (RR 2.16 [95% CI 1.77–2.62]). Interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some cases, but the results were not consistent. No evidence of publication bias was demonstrated on visual or statistical examination of the funnel plots for either disease management or health behaviours. To address the limitation of the older search, we also reviewed more recent literature.
Conclusions
Text messaging interventions increased adherence to ART and smoking cessation and should be considered for inclusion in services. Although there is suggestive evidence of benefit in some other areas, high quality adequately powered trials of optimised interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
Every year, millions of people die from cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and circulation), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a long-term lung disease), lung cancer, HIV infection, and diabetes. These diseases are increasingly important causes of mortality (death) in low- and middle-income countries and are responsible for nearly 40% of deaths in high-income countries. For all these diseases, individuals can adopt healthy behaviors that help prevent disease onset. For example, people can lower their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy body weight, and, if they are smokers, they can reduce their risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease by giving up cigarettes. In addition, optimal treatment of existing diseases can reduce mortality and morbidity (illness). Thus, in people who are infected with HIV, antiretroviral therapy delays the progression of HIV infection and the onset of AIDS, and in people who have diabetes, good blood sugar control can prevent retinopathy (a type of blindness) and other serious complications of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Health-care providers need effective ways to encourage "health-care consumers" to make healthy lifestyle choices and to self-manage chronic diseases. The amount of information, encouragement and support that can be conveyed to individuals during face-to-face consultations or through traditional media such as leaflets is limited, but mobile technologies such as mobile phones and portable computers have the potential to transform the delivery of health messages. These increasingly popular technologies—more than two-thirds of the world's population now owns a mobile phone—can be used to deliver health messages to people anywhere and at the most relevant times. For example, smokers trying to quit smoking can be sent regular text messages to sustain their motivation, but can also use text messaging to request extra support when it is needed. But is "mHealth," the provision of health-related services using mobile communication technology, an effective way to deliver health messages to health-care consumers? In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of mobile technology-based health behavior change interventions and disease management interventions delivered to health-care consumers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 75 controlled trials (studies that compare the outcomes of people who do and do not receive an intervention) of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health-care consumers that met their predefined criteria. Twenty-six trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to change health behaviors, 59 investigated their use in disease management, most were of low quality, and nearly all were undertaken in high-income countries. In one high-quality trial that used text messages to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients in Kenya, the intervention significantly reduced the patients’ viral load but did not significantly reduce mortality (the observed reduction in deaths may have happened by chance). In two high-quality UK trials, a smoking intervention based on text messaging (txt2stop) more than doubled biochemically verified smoking cessation. Other lower-quality trials indicated that using text messages to encourage physical activity improved diabetes control but had no effect on body weight. Combined diet and physical activity text messaging interventions also had no effect on weight, whereas interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some but not all cases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide mixed evidence for the effectiveness of health intervention delivery to health-care consumers using mobile technologies. Moreover, they highlight the need for additional high-quality controlled trials of this mHealth application, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, the demonstration that text messaging interventions increased adherence to antiretroviral therapy in a low-income setting and increased smoking cessation in a high-income setting provides some support for the inclusion of these two interventions in health-care services in similar settings. However, the effects of these two interventions need to be established in other settings and their cost-effectiveness needs to be measured before they are widely implemented. Finally, for other mobile technology–based interventions designed to change health behaviors or to improve self-management of chronic diseases, the results of this systematic review suggest that the interventions need to be optimized before further trials are undertaken to establish their clinical benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001362.
A related PLOS Medicine Research Article by Free et al. investigates the ability of mHealth technologies to improve health-care service delivery processes
Wikipedia has a page on mHealth (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies is a global survey of mHealth prepared by the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory for eHealth (eHealth is health-care practice supported by electronic processes and communication)
The mHealth in Low-Resource Settings website, which is maintained by the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute, provides information on the current use, potential, and limitations of mHealth in low-resource settings
More information about Txt2stop is available, the UK National Health Service Choices website provides an analysis of the Txt2stop trial and what its results mean, and the UK National Health Service Smokefree website provides a link to a Quit App for the iPhone
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a text messaging service that delivers regular health tips and alerts to mobile phones
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001362
PMCID: PMC3548655  PMID: 23349621
13.  MED5/355: Using Web-technology for Asynchronous Telemedicine Consulting 
Introduction
Common telemedicine consultations can be divided in two classes: real-time telemedicine consultations and asynchronous telemedicine consultations. The advantage of real-time consultations is obvious - this is a natural discussion between physicians, which may be realised on the basis of desktop videoconferences. But the problems are also obvious: the necessity of additional hardware and the elevated demands for channel bandwidth. Because of the latter, the use of asynchronous telemedicine consultations is more preferable in most cases.
Methods
We can consider asynchronous telemedicine consultations as a special form of a discussion forum, very familiar tool for users' collaboration in global networks. Currently, there exist many software products that facilitate the discussion forums using Web-technology and Internet standards. After a period of research and analysis, we have taken the decision to use as our development basis the Lotus Notes/Domino server. The following characteristics of Lotus Notes can explain our decision:
Ready-to-run discussion forum model
Mechanisms for access control,
Build-in integration with Web-technology,
Visual tools for database design.
Results
The first version of Web-server for telemedicine consultation "Telemedicine concilium" using Lotus Notes/Domino technology is already in use. The main form, describing clinical case description documents, has the two main parts: description of patient vital status/systems and section of multimedia upload files (attached files with clinical investigation data). The clinical cases database is currently containing about 30 clinical cases. Approximately 40 physicians not only from Moscow, but also from other regions of Russia and from other countries of ex-USSR were registered as users of server.
Discussion
The current operation of the Lotus Notes server has proven the efficiency and attraction of the proposed technology. However, some problems have been detected: the Web-interaction mode is not available for all users, while some of them prefer to use e-mail for information exchange. Also, the form for the clinical case descriptions must be differentiated for different clinical cases or diverse category of patients (adults, children).
doi:10.2196/jmir.1.suppl1.e48
PMCID: PMC1761838
Remote Consultation; Databases; Web Technology
14.  Design of an mHealth App for the Self-management of Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes: A Pilot Study 
Background
The use of mHealth apps has shown improved health outcomes in adult populations with type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, this has not been shown in the adolescent type 1 population, despite their predisposition to the use of technology. We hypothesized that a more tailored approach and a strong adherence mechanism is needed for this group.
Objective
To design, develop, and pilot an mHealth intervention for the management of type 1 diabetes in adolescents.
Methods
We interviewed adolescents with type 1 diabetes and their family caregivers. Design principles were derived from a thematic analysis of the interviews. User-centered design was then used to develop the mobile app bant. In the 12-week evaluation phase, a pilot group of 20 adolescents aged 12–16 years, with a glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of between 8% and 10% was sampled. Each participant was supplied with the bant app running on an iPhone or iPod Touch and a LifeScan glucometer with a Bluetooth adapter for automated transfers to the app. The outcome measure was the average daily frequency of blood glucose measurement during the pilot compared with the preceding 12 weeks.
Results
Thematic analysis findings were the role of data collecting rather than decision making; the need for fast, discrete transactions; overcoming decision inertia; and the need for ad hoc information sharing. Design aspects of the resultant app emerged through the user-centered design process, including simple, automated transfer of glucometer readings; the use of a social community; and the concept of gamification, whereby routine behaviors and actions are rewarded in the form of iTunes music and apps. Blood glucose trend analysis was provided with immediate prompting of the participant to suggest both the cause and remedy of the adverse trend. The pilot evaluation showed that the daily average frequency of blood glucose measurement increased 50% (from 2.4 to 3.6 per day, P = .006, n = 12). A total of 161 rewards (average of 8 rewards each) were distributed to participants. Satisfaction was high, with 88% (14/16 participants) stating that they would continue to use the system. Demonstrating improvements in HbA1c will require a properly powered study of sufficient duration.
Conclusions
This mHealth diabetes app with the use of gamification incentives showed an improvement in the frequency of blood glucose monitoring in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Extending this to improved health outcomes will require the incentives to be tied not only to frequency of blood glucose monitoring but also to patient actions and decision making based on those readings such that glycemic control can be improved.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2058
PMCID: PMC3799540  PMID: 22564332
Type 1 diabetes mellitus; adolescent; cellular phone; self-care; chronic disease
15.  Efficacy of site-independent telemedicine in the STRokE DOC trial: a randomised, blinded, prospective study 
Lancet neurology  2008;7(9):787-795.
Background
To increase effective use of rt-PA for acute stroke, vascular neurology expertise must be disseminated more widely. We prospectively assessed whether telemedicine (real-time, 2 way audio/video and DICOM interpretation) or telephone was superior for decision-making in acute telemedicine consultations.
Methods
Acute stroke patients were randomized to telemedicine or telephone consultation. Primary outcome measure was whether the thrombolytic treatment decision was correct, as determined by central adjudication. Secondary outcomes included rt-PA use-rate, 90 day functional outcomes, hemorrhages, and technical observations.
Findings
Two hundred thirty-four patients were prospectively evaluated. Mean NIHSS score was 9.5 (11.4±8.7 telemedicine, 7.7±7.0 telephone; p=0.0020). One telemedicine consult (0.9%) was aborted for technical reasons, though was included in intention-to-treat analyses. Correct treatment decision was made more often in telemedicine (98.2% telemedicine, 82% telephone; OR 10.9; 95%CI 2.7-44.6; p=0.0009). IV rt-PA use-rate was 25% (28% telemedicine, 23% telephone; OR 1.3; 95%CI 0.7-2.5; p=0.4248). Ninety day functional outcomes were not different for BI(95–100) (OR 0.6; 95%CI 0.4-1.1; p=0.1268) or for mRS (OR 0.6; 95%CI 0.3-1.1; p=0.0898). There was no mortality difference (OR 1.6; 95%CI 0.8-3.4; p=0.2690). Post-rt-PA ICH rates were not different (7% telemedicine, 8% telephone; OR 0.8; 95%CI 0.1-6.3; p=1.0). There was a difference noted for amount of non-completed data (3.1% telemedicine, 12.0% telephone; OR 0.2; 95%CI 0.1-0.3; p<0.001).
Interpretation
This trial reports that stroke telemedicine consultations result in more accurate decision making, compared to telephone, and can serve as a model for the effective use of telemedicine in other medical fields. The more appropriate decisions, high rt-PA userates, improved data collection, low ICH rates, low technical complications, and favorable time requirements all support telemedicine’s efficacy, most specifically for decision-making, and may enable more practitioners to use telemedicine in daily stroke care.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70171-6
PMCID: PMC2744128  PMID: 18676180
Stroke; Telemedicine; Efficacy; Site-Independent; Decision
16.  Feasibility of AmbulanCe-Based Telemedicine (FACT) Study: Safety, Feasibility and Reliability of Third Generation In-Ambulance Telemedicine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110043.
Background
Telemedicine is currently mainly applied as an in-hospital service, but this technology also holds potential to improve emergency care in the prehospital arena. We report on the safety, feasibility and reliability of in-ambulance teleconsultation using a telemedicine system of the third generation.
Methods
A routine ambulance was equipped with a system for real-time bidirectional audio-video communication, automated transmission of vital parameters, glycemia and electronic patient identification. All patients ( ≥18 years) transported during emergency missions by a Prehospital Intervention Team of the Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel were eligible for inclusion. To guarantee mobility and to facilitate 24/7 availability, the teleconsultants used lightweight laptop computers to access a dedicated telemedicine platform, which also provided functionalities for neurological assessment, electronic reporting and prehospital notification of the in-hospital team. Key registrations included any safety issue, mobile connectivity, communication of patient information, audiovisual quality, user-friendliness and accuracy of the prehospital diagnosis.
Results
Prehospital teleconsultation was obtained in 41 out of 43 cases (95.3%). The success rates for communication of blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, glycemia, and electronic patient identification were 78.7%, 84.8%, 80.6%, 64.0%, and 84.2%. A preliminary prehospital diagnosis was formulated in 90.2%, with satisfactory agreement with final in-hospital diagnoses. Communication of a prehospital report to the in-hospital team was successful in 94.7% and prenotification of the in-hospital team via SMS in 90.2%. Failures resulted mainly from limited mobile connectivity and to a lesser extent from software, hardware or human error. The user acceptance was high.
Conclusions
Ambulance-based telemedicine of the third generation is safe, feasible and reliable but further research and development, especially with regard to high speed broadband access, is needed before this approach can be implemented in daily practice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110043
PMCID: PMC4208882  PMID: 25343246
17.  A meta-analysis of telemedicine success in Africa 
The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) tools to improve the efficiency of professionalism at work is increasing every time under the dynamic digital environment. Tools such as telemedicine, tele-education, and health informatics have of late been incorporated in the health sector to enable easy access to essential services, for example, in medical areas from referral centers by the patients on one hand and enabling the doctor to doctor consultations for the benefit of patients. Unfortunately, observations indicate dearth efforts and commitment to optimize use of the tools in the majority of the countries south of the Sahara. Sub-Saharan Africa has been left almost behind the rest of the world in terms of development going through decades of economic exploitation by especially the west through its natural and human resources. These factors, ethnic conflicts and endless wars have continued to ruin sub-Saharan Africa’s socio-economic development. Information was obtained through a network of telemedicine practitioners in different African countries using internet communication, through E-mail and reviewing existing literature of their activities. This information was compiled from representative countries in each African region and the previous authors’experiences as telemedicine practioners. Most of these countries have inadequate ICT infrastructure, which yet creates sub-optimal application. Sub-Saharan Africa, made up of 33 of the 48 global poorest countries has to extend its ICT diffusion and policy to match the ever developing global economy. In some countries such as Ethiopia and South Africa there is significant progress in Telemedicine while in countries such as Burkina Faso and Nigeria the progress is slow because of lack of political support. Almost all reference to Africa is made in due respect to sub-Saharan Africa, one with big social, economic, and political problems with resultant high morbidity and mortality rates. This also highlights the under-representation of African researchers in the global whelm of information system research. Telemedicine in Africa though has not attracted enough political support is potentially a very useful conduit of health-care given the fact that the continent is resource limited and still enduring the effects of scarce human resource especially in health.
doi:10.4103/2153-3539.112686
PMCID: PMC3709418  PMID: 23858382
Africa; e-health; internet; telemedicine; telepathology
18.  A Multimedia Mobile Phone–Based Youth Smoking Cessation Intervention: Findings From Content Development and Piloting Studies 
Background
While most young people who smoke want to quit, few access cessation support services. Mobile phone–based cessation programs are ideal for young people: mobile phones are the most common means of peer communication, and messages can be delivered in an anonymous manner, anywhere, anytime. Following the success of our text messaging smoking cessation program, we developed an innovative multimedia mobile phone smoking cessation intervention.
Objective
The aim of the study was to develop and pilot test a youth-oriented multimedia smoking cessation intervention delivered solely by mobile phone.
Methods
Development included creating content and building the technology platform. Content development was overseen by an expert group who advised on youth development principles, observational learning (from social cognitive theory), effective smoking cessation interventions, and social marketing. Young people participated in three content development phases (consultation via focus groups and an online survey, content pre-testing, and selection of role models). Video and text messages were then developed, incorporating the findings from this research. Information technology systems were established to support the delivery of the multimedia messages by mobile phone. A pilot study using an abbreviated 4-week program of video and text content tested the reliability of the systems and the acceptability of the intervention.
Results
Approximately 180 young people participated in the consultation phase. There was a high priority placed on music for relaxation (75%) and an interest in interacting with others in the program (40% would read messages, 36% would read a blog). Findings from the pre-testing phase (n = 41) included the importance of selecting “real” and “honest” role models with believable stories, and an interest in animations (37%). Of the 15 participants who took part in the pilot study, 13 (87%) were available for follow-up interviews at 4 weeks: 12 participants liked the program or liked it most of the time and found the role model to be believable; 7 liked the role model video messages (5 were unsure); 8 used the extra assistance for cravings; and 9 were happy with two messages per day. Nine participants (60%) stopped smoking during the program. Some technical challenges were encountered during the pilot study.
Conclusions
A multimedia mobile phone smoking cessation program is technically feasible, and the content developed is appropriate for this medium and is acceptable to our target population. These results have informed the design of a 6-month intervention currently being evaluated for its effectiveness in increasing smoking cessation rates in young people.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1007
PMCID: PMC2630843  PMID: 19033148
Smoking cessation; cellular phone; learning
19.  Classification Accuracies of Physical Activities Using Smartphone Motion Sensors 
Background
Over the past few years, the world has witnessed an unprecedented growth in smartphone use. With sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes on board, smartphones have the potential to enhance our understanding of health behavior, in particular physical activity or the lack thereof. However, reliable and valid activity measurement using only a smartphone in situ has not been realized.
Objective
To examine the validity of the iPod Touch (Apple, Inc.) and particularly to understand the value of using gyroscopes for classifying types of physical activity, with the goal of creating a measurement and feedback system that easily integrates into individuals’ daily living.
Methods
We collected accelerometer and gyroscope data for 16 participants on 13 activities with an iPod Touch, a device that has essentially the same sensors and computing platform as an iPhone. The 13 activities were sitting, walking, jogging, and going upstairs and downstairs at different paces. We extracted time and frequency features, including mean and variance of acceleration and gyroscope on each axis, vector magnitude of acceleration, and fast Fourier transform magnitude for each axis of acceleration. Different classifiers were compared using the Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis (WEKA) toolkit, including C4.5 (J48) decision tree, multilayer perception, naive Bayes, logistic, k-nearest neighbor (kNN), and meta-algorithms such as boosting and bagging. The 10-fold cross-validation protocol was used.
Results
Overall, the kNN classifier achieved the best accuracies: 52.3%–79.4% for up and down stair walking, 91.7% for jogging, 90.1%–94.1% for walking on a level ground, and 100% for sitting. A 2-second sliding window size with a 1-second overlap worked the best. Adding gyroscope measurements proved to be more beneficial than relying solely on accelerometer readings for all activities (with improvement ranging from 3.1% to 13.4%).
Conclusions
Common categories of physical activity and sedentary behavior (walking, jogging, and sitting) can be recognized with high accuracies using both the accelerometer and gyroscope onboard the iPod touch or iPhone. This suggests the potential of developing just-in-time classification and feedback tools on smartphones.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2208
PMCID: PMC3510774  PMID: 23041431
Activity classification; machine learning; accelerometer; gyroscope; smartphone
20.  Telemedicine: a cautious welcome. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7069):1375-1377.
Telemedicine is a major new development. Having become technically and economically feasible, it deserves proper investigation. Rushing into equipment purchase, however, is almost certain to prove counterproductive. Face to face contact is fundamental to health care and enthusiasts of telemedicine should recognise that it is not as good as the real thing (and unlikely ever to be). However, constraints on time and resources will make face to face consultation increasingly expensive, and telemedicine has the potential to produce major efficiencies in the diagnostic process. The goal of current research is therefore to marry medicine with technology, capitalising on the advantages of telemedicine and producing a robust system that delivers an acceptable service at an appropriate price.
Images
PMCID: PMC2352879  PMID: 8956707
21.  Telepointer technology in telemedicine : a review 
Telepointer is a powerful tool in the telemedicine system that enhances the effectiveness of long-distance communication. Telepointer has been tested in telemedicine, and has potential to a big influence in improving quality of health care, especially in the rural area. A telepointer system works by sending additional information in the form of gesture that can convey more accurate instruction or information. It leads to more effective communication, precise diagnosis, and better decision by means of discussion and consultation between the expert and the junior clinicians. However, there is no review paper yet on the state of the art of the telepointer in telemedicine. This paper is intended to give the readers an overview of recent advancement of telepointer technology as a support tool in telemedicine. There are four most popular modes of telepointer system, namely cursor, hand, laser and sketching pointer. The result shows that telepointer technology has a huge potential for wider acceptance in real life applications, there are needs for more improvement in the real time positioning accuracy. More results from actual test (real patient) need to be reported. We believe that by addressing these two issues, telepointer technology will be embraced widely by researchers and practitioners.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-12-21
PMCID: PMC3610246  PMID: 23496940
Telepointer; Telemedicine; Cursor pointer; Hand pointer; Laser pointer; Sketching pointer
22.  Use of telemedicine in disaster and remote places 
One of the methods, especially those living in remote areas or have crashed and does not have access to specialists is telemedicine. Telemedicine describes the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status and care. Travel and wait times between the initial consultations with the patient's own general practitioner and referral to specialist can be reduced and specialists have successfully provided remote triage and treatment consults of victims via the robot. The robot proved to be a useful means to extend resources and provide expert consulting if specialists were unable to physically be at the site. In fact, the telemedicine system is providing health care services for individuals who are not available because of geographical and environmental conditions. The aim of this study was to identify telemedicine applications in disaster, and proposed use of this technology in areas where the shortage of specialists in remote areas in disasters. This study was un-systematic (narrative) review. The literature was searched for using of telemedicine in disaster and remote places with the help of libraries, conference proceedings, data bank, and also search engines available at Google, Google scholar. In our searches, we employed the following keywords and their combinations: telemedicine, remote place, earthquake, disaster, war, and telecommunication in the searching areas of title, keyword, abstract, and full text. In this study, more than 85 articles and reports were collected and 26 of them were selected based on their relevancy. This literature review helps define the concept of “components and usages of the Telemedicine in disaster” as the new technology in the present age.
doi:10.4103/2277-9531.131886
PMCID: PMC4089116  PMID: 25013819
Earthquake; remote place; telecommunication; telemedicine
23.  Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to conduct an evidence-based assessment of home telehealth technologies for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in order to inform recommendations regarding the access and provision of these services in Ontario. This analysis was one of several analyses undertaken to evaluate interventions for COPD. The perspective of this assessment was that of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, a provincial payer of medically necessary health care services.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Canada is facing an increase in chronic respiratory diseases due in part to its aging demographic. The projected increase in COPD will put a strain on health care payers and providers. There is therefore an increasing demand for telehealth services that improve access to health care services while maintaining or improving quality and equality of care. Many telehealth technologies however are in the early stages of development or diffusion and thus require study to define their application and potential harms or benefits. The Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) therefore sought to evaluate telehealth technologies for COPD.
Technology
Telemedicine (or telehealth) refers to using advanced information and communication technologies and electronic medical devices to support the delivery of clinical care, professional education, and health-related administrative services.
Generally there are 4 broad functions of home telehealth interventions for COPD:
to monitor vital signs or biological health data (e.g., oxygen saturation),
to monitor symptoms, medication, or other non-biologic endpoints (e.g., exercise adherence),
to provide information (education) and/or other support services (such as reminders to exercise or positive reinforcement), and
to establish a communication link between patient and provider.
These functions often require distinct technologies, although some devices can perform a number of these diverse functions. For the purposes of this review, MAS focused on home telemonitoring and telephone only support technologies.
Telemonitoring (or remote monitoring) refers to the use of medical devices to remotely collect a patient’s vital signs and/or other biologic health data and the transmission of those data to a monitoring station for interpretation by a health care provider.
Telephone only support refers to disease/disorder management support provided by a health care provider to a patient who is at home via telephone or videoconferencing technology in the absence of transmission of patient biologic data.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of home telemonitoring compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of telephone only support programs compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on November 3, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2000 until November 3, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria – Question #1
frequent transmission of a patient’s physiological data collected at home and without a health care professional physically present to health care professionals for routine monitoring through the use of a communication technology;
monitoring combined with a coordinated management and feedback system based on transmitted data;
telemonitoring as a key component of the intervention (subjective determination);
usual care as provided by the usual care provider for the control group;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), systematic reviews, and/or meta-analyses;
published between January 1, 2000 and November 3, 2010.
Inclusion Criteria – Question #2
scheduled or frequent contact between patient and a health care professional via telephone or videoconferencing technology in the absence of transmission of patient physiological data;
monitoring combined with a coordinated management and feedback system based on transmitted data;
telephone support as a key component of the intervention (subjective determination);
usual care as provided by the usual care provider for the control group;
RCTs, CCTs, systematic reviews, and/or meta-analyses;
published between January 1, 2000 and November 3, 2010.
Exclusion Criteria
published in a language other than English;
intervention group (and not control) receiving some form of home visits by a medical professional, typically a nurse (i.e., telenursing) beyond initial technology set-up and education, to collect physiological data, or to somehow manage or treat the patient;
not recording patient or health system outcomes (e.g., technical reports testing accuracy, reliability or other development-related outcomes of a device, acceptability/feasibility studies, etc.);
not using an independent control group that received usual care (e.g., studies employing historical or periodic controls).
Outcomes of Interest
hospitalizations (primary outcome)
mortality
emergency department visits
length of stay
quality of life
other […]
Subgroup Analyses (a priori)
length of intervention (primary)
severity of COPD (primary)
Quality of Evidence
The quality of evidence assigned to individual studies was determined using a modified CONSORT Statement Checklist for Randomized Controlled Trials. (1) The CONSORT Statement was adapted to include 3 additional quality measures: the adequacy of control group description, significant differential loss to follow-up between groups, and greater than or equal to 30% study attrition. Individual study quality was defined based on total scores according to the CONSORT Statement checklist: very low (0 to < 40%), low (≥ 40 to < 60%), moderate (≥ 60 to < 80%), and high (≥ 80 to 100%).
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Six publications, representing 5 independent trials, met the eligibility criteria for Research Question #1. Three trials were RCTs reported across 4 publications, whereby patients were randomized to home telemonitoring or usual care, and 2 trials were CCTs, whereby patients or health care centers were nonrandomly assigned to intervention or usual care.
A total of 310 participants were studied across the 5 included trials. The mean age of study participants in the included trials ranged from 61.2 to 74.5 years for the intervention group and 61.1 to 74.5 years for the usual care group. The percentage of men ranged from 40% to 64% in the intervention group and 46% to 72% in the control group.
All 5 trials were performed in a moderate to severe COPD patient population. Three trials initiated the intervention following discharge from hospital. One trial initiated the intervention following a pulmonary rehabilitation program. The final trial initiated the intervention during management of patients at an outpatient clinic.
Four of the 5 trials included oxygen saturation (i.e., pulse oximetry) as one of the biological patient parameters being monitored. Additional parameters monitored included forced expiratory volume in one second, peak expiratory flow, and temperature.
There was considerable clinical heterogeneity between trials in study design, methods, and intervention/control. In relation to the telemonitoring intervention, 3 of the 5 included studies used an electronic health hub that performed multiple functions beyond the monitoring of biological parameters. One study used only a pulse oximeter device alone with modem capabilities. Finally, in 1 study, patients measured and then forwarded biological data to a nurse during a televideo consultation. Usual care varied considerably between studies.
Only one trial met the eligibility criteria for Research Question #2. The included trial was an RCT that randomized 60 patients to nurse telephone follow-up or usual care (no telephone follow-up). Participants were recruited from the medical department of an acute-care hospital in Hong Kong and began receiving follow-up after discharge from the hospital with a diagnosis of COPD (no severity restriction). The intervention itself consisted of only two 10-to 20-minute telephone calls, once between days 3 to 7 and once between days 14 to 20, involving a structured, individualized educational and supportive programme led by a nurse that focused on 3 components: assessment, management options, and evaluation.
Regarding Research Question #1:
Low to very low quality evidence (according to GRADE) finds non-significant effects or conflicting effects (of significant or non-significant benefit) for all outcomes examined when comparing home telemonitoring to usual care.
There is a trend towards significant increase in time free of hospitalization and use of other health care services with home telemonitoring, but these findings need to be confirmed further in randomized trials of high quality.
There is severe clinical heterogeneity between studies that limits summary conclusions.
The economic impact of home telemonitoring is uncertain and requires further study.
Home telemonitoring is largely dependent on local information technologies, infrastructure, and personnel, and thus the generalizability of external findings may be low. Jurisdictions wishing to replicate home telemonitoring interventions should likely test those interventions within their jurisdictional framework before adoption, or should focus on home-grown interventions that are subjected to appropriate evaluation and proven effective.
Regarding Research Question #2:
Low quality evidence finds significant benefit in favour of telephone-only support for self-efficacy and emergency department visits when compared to usual care, but non-significant results for hospitalizations and hospital length of stay.
There are very serious issues with the generalizability of the evidence and thus additional research is required.
PMCID: PMC3384362  PMID: 23074421
24.  Impact of a Telemedicine System with Automated Reminders on Outcomes in Women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus 
Abstract
Background
Health information technology has been proven to be a successful tool for the management of patients with multiple medical conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of an enhanced telemedicine system on glucose control and pregnancy outcomes in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).
Subjects and Methods
We used an Internet-based telemedicine system to also allow interactive voice response phone communication between patients and providers and to provide automated reminders to transmit data. Women with GDM were randomized to either the telemedicine group (n=40) or the control group (n=40) and asked to monitor their blood glucose levels four times a day. Women in the intervention group transmitted those values via the telemedicine system, whereas women in the control group maintained paper logbooks, which were reviewed at prenatal visits. Primary outcomes were infant birth weight and maternal glucose control. Data collection included blood glucose records, transmission rates for the intervention group, and chart review.
Results
There were no significant differences between the two groups (telemedicine vs. controls) in regard to maternal blood glucose values or infant birth weight. However, adding telephone access and reminders increased transmission rates of data in the intervention group compared with the intervention group in our previous study (35.6±32.3 sets of data vs.17.4±16.9 sets of data; P<0.01).
Conclusions
Our enhanced telemedicine monitoring system increased system utilization and contact between women with GDM and their healthcare providers but did not impact upon pregnancy outcomes.
doi:10.1089/dia.2012.0010
PMCID: PMC3389380  PMID: 22512287
25.  A Review of Assistive Listening Device and Digital Wireless Technology for Hearing Instruments 
Korean Journal of Audiology  2014;18(3):105-111.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) refer to various types of amplification equipment designed to improve the communication of individuals with hard of hearing to enhance the accessibility to speech signal when individual hearing instruments are not sufficient. There are many types of ALDs to overcome a triangle of speech to noise ratio (SNR) problems, noise, distance, and reverberation. ALDs vary in their internal electronic mechanisms ranging from simple hard-wire microphone-amplifier units to more sophisticated broadcasting systems. They usually use microphones to capture an audio source and broadcast it wirelessly over a frequency modulation (FM), infra-red, induction loop, or other transmission techniques. The seven types of ALDs are introduced including hardwire devices, FM sound system, infra-red sound system, induction loop system, telephone listening devices, television, and alert/alarm system. Further development of digital wireless technology in hearing instruments will make possible direct communication with ALDs without any accessories in the near future. There are two technology solutions for digital wireless hearing instruments improving SNR and convenience. One is near-field magnetic induction combined with Bluetooth radio frequency (RF) transmission or proprietary RF transmission and the other is proprietary RF transmission alone. Recently launched digital wireless hearing aid applying this new technology can communicate from the hearing instrument to personal computer, phones, Wi-Fi, alert systems, and ALDs via iPhone, iPad, and iPod. However, it comes with its own iOS application offering a range of features but there is no option for Android users as of this moment.
doi:10.7874/kja.2014.18.3.105
PMCID: PMC4285000  PMID: 25566400
Assistive listening devices; Bluetooth; Digital wireless technology; Near-field magnetic induction; Radio frequency

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