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Like any other organization, the United States Veterans Administration Healthcare System strives to better serve its constituents while increasing efficiency and lowering costs. The Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Portland, Oregon wanted to improve care for its diabetic patients by providing an easier way for them to record and report self-monitored vital signs. In the past, a patient would test blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart rate, recording results on paper. Every one-to-two weeks, the patient would visit a physician, often only for the purpose of submitting vital sign records.

Using the Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PC Phone Edition, the VA will be able to dramatically change and improved its patient care, allowing patients to report vital signs daily, and enabling physicians to respond more quickly to concerns. The system may reduce clinic visits by as much as 90 percent, freeing care providers to focus their attention elsewhere and reducing the travel burden on the patient.

Working with CTA Development, the VA developed “Telemed,” a solution that is secure enough to comply with stringent Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy regulations regarding patient information. Patient-entered data saves locally on the Pocket PC device. The data then transmits to the hospital servers securely using Microsoft XML Web services. The solution is also reliable, as required for the kind of critical health information the system must handle. Portable, easy-to-use, and accessible, the Pocket PC-enabled solution provides patients with the connectivity to report vital signs whenever and wherever. Says RD Clyde, Team Lead at CTA, “Telemed had to be user-friendly. The Pocket PC was a natural fit. It let us design Telemed to be easy to learn and easy to use.”

Telemed further enhances patient care by providing a way for patients to send short text messages to physicians, and for physicians to inquire about a patient’s condition.

The solution was easy to develop, with familiar software that programmers already know and can use to make future changes easily. Says Jeff Bloom, CTA CEO, “The Pocket PC was an obvious choice—it’s easier to develop solutions for it than is the Palm.”

With its broad applicability, the solution already has generated interest among others both within and outside the U.S. Veterans Healthcare System.