Chronic Disease Management Goes Roaming

A Canadian firm is developing new information technology to help patients better manage their chronic diseases. Gerry Verner, CEO of AnyWare Group, explained that his firm created Role Oriented Access Management (ROAM) technology to provide physicians and other healthcare professional with easy remote access to patient data, such as lab results, chart notes, and imaging studies. ROAM technology meets privacy regulations, such as HIPAA in the United States, and is used in more than 60 healthcare systems in Canada and the United States.

AnyWare Group has recently developed an additional feature that would allow patients to enter data about their own conditions, interact with healthcare providers via the Internet, and hopefully improve self-management of their own chronic diseases. Verner explained how the new system works: "A newly diagnosed [diabetic] patient would report on blood sugar readings daily." After receiving self-reported data on blood sugar and activity levels from a patient, the practitioner could use the same technology to provide the patient with medical advice that could help better manage the patient's condition.

For example, if a patient submits consistently high blood sugar levels via this system, the practitioner would be alerted electronically, and could then e-mail the patient with instructions to increase the dose of a diabetes medication. The technology will also chart the blood sugar and activity levels on a graph. "It's like having a dashboard," says Verner.

Working with healthcare providers at the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation in New Brunswick, Canada, who were concerned about the increasing numbers of diabetic patients they were treating, AnyWare Group developed the diabetic disease management program, the first of several disease management programs it plans to develop. In addition to entering daily blood sugar levels, the program also gives patients online education portals and chat rooms to talk to other patients. Atlantic Health Sciences completed a small pilot study in about 20 women with gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, last year. They are now starting to enroll about 250 diabetics for a larger study of the effectiveness of this disease management program.

Jill Martin-MacPhee, administrative director for internal medicine, Diabetes Education Program, has heard some very positive feedback from patients who have started to use the interactive system. Pleased that someone is paying attention to their daily entries and that online classes offer a convenient way to learn about diabetes, patients have told her, "This is exactly what I need."
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