AT&T rolls out patient data exchange, mobile monitoring services

It's experimenting with patient-monitoring slippers

AT&T today announced a number of new services that are either live or being tested that will transmit patient monitoring device data from remote locations to physicians and can store data in cloud-service offerings.

AT&T's new practice area, called AT&T ForHealthSM, will focus on deploying cloud-based, wireless and networking services targeted at remote monitoring, patient alert systems and data exchange between patients and their healthcare providers. The services also include audio and video telemedicine.

"What our new focus, is and what we're announcing today, is a concerted effort tailored to [the] healthcare community around mobile health," said Brenda Crawford, assistant vice president of healthcare marketing for AT&T. "It's about using mobile technology over wireless networks."

According to IDC, IT healthcare spending in 2010 is expected to reach $33.9 billion and will growth about 24% year over year for the next four years. In 2009 alone, AT&T said it reaped about $4 billion in revenue from service offerings in the healthcare industry.

AT&T announced a new set of cloud-based services that include medical image archive applications and security services, which will permit healthcare providers to share clinical data over a secure network. The network can host live video conferences between physicians and patients, as well as share images and medical records.

AT&T's Telehealth Solutions service uses high-definition video and audio conferencing technology to enable patients in rural or under-served areas to consult with medical specialists and even receive examinations in the comfort of their primary physician's office, community hospital or clinic.

AT&T Lab researchers are also working with hospitals and universities on "smart slippers" that wirelessly monitor a patient's gait to identify pressure signatures. The sensors could more quickly alert healthcare providers and caregivers if a patient falls down or help prevent falls by identifying an unsteady gait. AT&T said a clinical trial test on a networked insole is now under way.

ForHealthSM also announced mHealth Services, which encompasses a number of mobile services that combine wireless devices, mobile networks and health monitoring applications that can transmit patient data to alert patients and physicians to potential health issues and to adjust long-term care.

For example, mHealth Services can be used to automatically send data from a diabetic patient's electronic glucose monitoring device to a primary care physician. The data can then be collected to create a patient record that can then be used to alert physicians to spikes in blood sugar levels or simply modify treatment over time.

AT&T is providing mHealth Services through a partnership with WellDoc, which sells a monitoring application called DiabetesManager. According to AT&T, the service will help patients manage their disease, take the appropriate medicine, receive home care, manage weight loss and monitor wellness programs

"It speaks to that overall patient diary and understanding over time; the data will be captured, tracked and the doctor will assess it over time," Crawford said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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