Telstra launches FHIR-powered telehealth solution with WebRTC
Telstra Health has launched a home telehealth platform that combines technologies such as online portals, WebRTC-based video conferencing, Bluetooth-enabled telemonitoring and an integration engine powered by the FHIR draft standard for interoperability that promises to be an affordable, sustainable solution for aged and community care providers.
Called MyCareManager, the platform has been developed by Telstra Health subsidiary HealthConnex and promises to provide from one platform the video conferencing, remote monitoring and alerts functionality that is increasingly being used in community care.
What sets MyCareManager apart, however, is its ability to integrate with the different clinical information and client management systems used by aged and community care providers. In what is one of the first applications in the wild, vendors of clinical information systems can integrate their software with MyCareManager simply by building a FHIR (pronounced 'fire') interface.
This means that data from care plans, medication lists and service schedules can be extracted in real time and made available to clients and their carers through a single portal, and information entered by the client such as journal entries, service requests and direct communication can be integrated back into the care provider's clinical or client management systems.
MyCareManager includes a number of technologies from Telstra Health partners such as US firm Get Real Health, which has provided its InstantPHR product for the portals; peripherals from wireless medical device specialist Entra Health Systems; and a video conferencing platform from Pexip that uses WebRTC but can also integrate with proprietary VC platforms such as Cisco and Lync.
Aimed predominantly at aged and community care organisations, the system is configurable through an easy to use content management system, allowing care providers to tailor what services and content they want to be provided to the particular client.
It can also be configured to use the care provider's branding. At the launch of MyCareManager in Sydney today, WA-headquartered in-home health and community care provider Silver Chain announced it was launching an own brand solution called Care Centre to assist in the delivery of services under its Hospital in the Home program in Queensland.
Silver Chain CIO Lee Davis said the solution would provide the ability to share a single client record between acute care and community care providers despite unconnected client and hospital management systems.
This will be done through Silver Chain's ComCare software, which has been integrated into MyCareManager through a FHIR interface. HealthConnex has also integrated its own community and aged care software systems, TCM and Communicare, and as it is built on open standards, can easily do so with other vendor software.
HealthConnex managing director Peter Young said the idea for MyCareManager came from the many home telehealth trials that have taken place over the last few years. These all have great promise, but once the project is completed and the funding runs out, that's the end of it.
“There were some issues with solutions being closed and expensive, some issues with products that weren't easy to use, but an important thing was that the solutions didn't integrate with the back office, core delivery systems,” Mr Young said.
“Our challenge was to develop a platform that harnessed some of these wonderful advances in web and assistive technologies, leverage Telstra's reach in communications and use our expertise and relationships with providers and provider applications to create an economically sustainable solution.
“We wanted something that we could deliver that could be pervasive and it could be affordable within the existing funding models.”
Mr Young said that to make the system affordable, HealthConnex wanted to use as many commodity devices as possible, so the hub that controls the technology from the client's end is a simple Android tablet such as the Samsung Galaxy.
The device acts as a hub for the client to log in to the portal, a wireless Bluetooth hub for the connected medical devices, and as the video conferencing device. “And if you put a SIM card in the back, then it also is your communication device,” Mr Young said.
“You can have all of the devices that you need preconfigured and put in a box, shipped to the home and they can open the devices, plug them in and everything works. There is no need to send a technician to the home to install the solution.
“The devices we currently support through Bluetooth are a glucometer, pulse oximeter, weight scales and blood pressure devices. The platform also supports the integration of lifestyle devices such as Fitbits and other innovations.
“We will support bring your own device, so if somebody has a favourite device, then as long as the agency is OK with that the solution will enable manual data entry and measurements from those devices as well.”
In terms of distribution and pricing, Telstra Health expects to distribute the device to community and residential aged care organisations who will sell it or provide it to their clients as part of publicly funded home care packages as appropriate.
Mr Young said it was difficult to put a figure on a price for MyCareManager as there were a number of variable pricing structures, but that it was designed to be sustainable under current funding arrangements.
“For $100 a month you can get an awful lot, but then you have to include if the user is going to use their own home network or you have to provide it. There are a whole lot of different options, but the whole thing is delivered out of the cloud, so it can be an easy subscription-based model.”
Consumer-directed care, however, changes things somewhat, he said. “The consumers now control the money, so we will support the traditional model of the provider who is perhaps administering the package on behalf of the client or there could be a model where the client purchases the equipment themselves.”
Posted in Australian eHealth