Patients who need their blood glucose monitored and uploaded to a file can soon cut the strings that may tie them to their PCs. Wireless Knowledge, Inc. has been selected by MyHealthChannel.com developer iMetrikus to develop wireless-enabled software that will give patients and caregivers the capability to upload personal diagnostics from Internet-enabled devices. The software will make for more frequent health readings and patient mobility.
With the collaboration of iMetrikus and Wireless Knowledge, these data transfers can be moved to mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other Internet-enabled wireless devices. This gives patients more freedom to continue with their lives, while still maintaining a comprehensive, quality data environment.
"We're developing software on the [Qualcomm] PDQ Smart Phone that will read the [blood glucose] meter and will transmit the data through the wireless airlink to the site," said Dan Halibuk, engagement manager, professional services at Wireless Knowledge.
For example, a diabetic patient needs to regularly check his blood glucose level with a blood glucose meter, said Dan Pettus, senior vice president of client services at iMetrikus. The data from the blood glucose meters needs to be presented to caretakers or doctors for the patient to receive the best type of treatment. Currently, the patient can only upload the data via a PC to the MyHealthChannel.com Web site, which utilizes extensible markup language (XML) for its interactive technology.
"That's a problem," Pettus said. "[A desktop computer] is not very mobile."
In looking for a partner for the wireless venture, in order to allow patients to continue with their lives while still receiving this level of care, iMetrikus looked at two main factors, Pettus said. The company wanted a partner that could develop the software so that monitoring devices could directly connect to wireless devices for uploading. Additionally, iMetrikus wanted to work with a company that could provide data transmission through an established standard, he added.
"We found that only Wireless Knowledge could provide both benefits at the same time," Pettus said. "The ability of Wireless Knowledge to provide a custom interface in the wireless phone directly connected to [a patient monitoring device] and provide a standard messaging technology using proprietary licensing software was a huge benefit to us."
"It's an extension of [iMetrikus's] mobile health watch application," Halibuk said. Essentially, it can be unnecessary and costly for patients to go to the doctor's office for routine tests, he said, and this is why the MyHealthChannel Web site was developed.
"We're taking it one step further," Halibuk said. "Patients will not need their PC... and do not need to be at home. Wherever they are, they can run tests with their schedule and sever ties to their PC."
"There are ... a lot of valuable wireless data applications that can be developed for healthcare, and CRM seems to be one of them," said Charul Vyas, research analyst in wireless and mobile communications, IDC. "Obviously, accessing patient information wirelessly will be beneficial to both the patient as well as the health care provider."
There are also plans for the service to monitor when the patient needs to test blood glucose levels and "push" reminders to the mobile devices, according to Halibuk. Other health tips relevant to that user could also show up on the mobile screen, and the patient could log on to look at the testing schedule, test results or to modify the profile, he said.
"We're trying to make [the protocol] as open as possible," Pettus said. The first phase of the wireless development will be using existing technology, he said, but in the future, iMetrikus plans for a more open architecture. "The goal is to open it up to anyone with a chronic condition," he added.
According to Halibuk, the data transmission will be secure hypertext transfer protocol (https) over the Internet, and messages "pushed" to the user will be done with short message service (SMS).
"The first phase will be only glucose monitors," Halibuk said. There are plans to expand this technology to a wider array of medical devices and wireless protocols, which will be driven my iMetrikus, he added.
"In the end, it's about improving outcomes," said Darrell Atkin, vice president of marketing at iMetrikus. The wireless element provides a platform for patients to keep track of their records for their doctor visits, without having to worry about forgetting to report results "because they can do that all interactively, via the wireless solution," he said.
"The healthcare industry has not adopted wireless data as quickly as other industries, such as the financial industry," Vyas said. "It seems that this is changing as more companies, such as iMetrikus and Wireless Knowledge, develop products specifically for this industry."
A prototype of the protocol is expected in less than 60 days, and a commercial release will be available at the end of the second quarter this year, according to Atkin.