RDNS wins innovation award for virtual nurse telehealth project

The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) has won the Outstanding ICT Innovation award in the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards 2013 for its Healthy, Happy and at Home telehealth project.

The project involves nurse-led video conferencing with RDNS clients in their own home, using the Intel Home Guide remote monitoring device, which includes an in-built camera and is capable of taking remote measurements through peripheral medical devices.

RDNS has been running a trial of the technology for over a year with selected clients in their homes, RDNS's executive general manager projects and business development, Stelvio Vido (pictured left), said.

Nurses make regular calls to clients from the RDNS's customer service centre (CSC) in Melbourne, which has been providing telephone customer service for several years and provides 24/7 nursing assistance.

The calls are made directly to the Intel device at appointed times each day, Mr Vido said. “The device is placed in the client's home and is connected through the internet, and we make a connection in the cloud from our end. Our nurse at the CSC has the same set-up as all the other nurses there but there's a camera attached.

“The appointments are made at an agreed time with the client and at the predetermined time the nurse at the customer service centre will effectively ring the device. It rings like a phone and the client answers. It tends to happen right on the dot so for the client there is a great deal of certainty about when the appointment is going to occur.”

At the moment, RDNS is mainly using the device to visit the client virtually and observe them taking their medications, but the device also has a diary element, in which it asks the clients certain questions, which are answered by a push-button on the screen. Depending on what the answer is, the device can prompt or trigger a response.

The device is also capable of taking regular measurements through peripheral devices, and RDNS is planning to expand the trial to do remote monitoring of chronically ill clients, Mr Vido said.

“We are using the video conferencing dimension at the moment but it's also capable of collecting data for remote monitoring through Bluetooth and it also has a feature of being able to provide eLearning, so videos can be played.

“Typically we would do seven visits per week, one every day, but with the video conferencing it means that we do six by video conferencing and the seventh one in person, because we believe people should always be seen in person.”

Project lead Matt Tyler said the clients on the trial were carefully screened to ensure they were able to use the device, including some with mild dementia. He said there was potential in future to extend it to those with more severe forms of the disease.

RDNS received grant funding from the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation under the Broadband Enabled Innovation Program (BEIP) to set up the trial, and now the organisation is looking at how it can transition to a regular, sustainable service.

Clients who are eligible for the federal government's Home and Community Care (HACC) program may be able to be subsidised in future, and RDNS's private clients might also be happy to pay for the technology.

“For HACC-eligible clients, when you provide services by telephone that is also covered, so there is some funding out of the existing community care arrangements for this type of service to be reimbursed,” Mr Vido said.

“Our intention is to keep expanding this type of service but also telehealth more broadly.”

The award was presented to RDNS at the 4th Ageing Asia Investment Forum in Singapore yesterday, where 300 international delegates from business, government and community sectors are discussing the challenges of ageing populations in the Asian region.

RDNS demonstrated its project with a videolink between Singapore’s senior minister of state, Chan Chun Sing, and nurse Amanda Murray, who was more than 6000 kilometres away in Melbourne.

Ms Murray took the minister through a conversation as though he was a real patient, monitoring his ‘medication’ – in this case lollies – and hypothetically taking his blood pressure.

RDNS CEO Stephen Muggleton said he was delighted with the win. “I want to particularly thank the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation who have given us magnificent support as well as our partners and the RDNS team who have delivered this innovative solution,” Professor Muggleton said in a statement.

“It is a great example of how clever but easy-to-use technology can provide better in-home support for consumers. The success of this project is opening up a range of other exciting solutions that build on the capacity of our nurse-led call centre.”

Other partners in the trial include La Trobe University, Telstra and Healthe Tech, which has the licence to resell the Intel device in Australia.

Posted in Allied Health


0 # Phil 2013-04-18 11:57
It perplexes me that governments in this country persist in funding and refunding trials of the same or similar thechnology. RPM was trailed in the Loddon Mallee more than 5 years ago, albeit minus the VC, and the results were almost identiacal to the overseas experience. The same source as provided that funding now funds RDNS to run an even simpler trial with better technology. Providers need to start implementation rather than continually playing around with trials.
0 # Stelvio Vido 2013-04-18 13:22
We share a commitment to telehealth. We see telehealth as an integral part of community based healthcare into the future.

At RDNS, we have committed to a telehealth platform (our 24/7 nurse led contact centre). We have developed a telehealth nursing workforce. They provide their services within a telehealth governance framework and with well developed operating processes and protocols. Our telehealth initiatives are supported by dedicated project and operational support staff. Our telehealth services are being extended in scope and breadth right now.
I'd like to think that we are not playing with telehealth - we are getting on with doing it.

0 # Phil_Rob 2013-04-21 19:38
The other Phil has missed the mark.

Successful Telehealth projects are not about the Technology but about integration with clinical practice. The RDNS service model is about creating a virtual relationship between client and nurse for medication management as poor compliance is a major cause of morbidity.

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