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A Windows 8 app for telemedicine by the numbers

You know, and I know, there’s nothing especially new or exciting about telemedicine. From a technology standpoint, the capability to care for patients remotely via “telemedicine” has been around practically since the invention of television. What has changed over the years is the cost of the technologies and networks that are needed to provide telemedicine services. Compared to the high cost of entry in the past, today just about anyone with a newer laptop or tablet and a high speed Internet connection could provide some level of telemedicine services. The hard part isn’t so much the technology itself but rather how to organize the various components and bring everything together in such a way that it all works as seamlessly as possible for both those providing and those receiving telemedicine services.

Over the weekend, I ran across a new app in the Windows Store. If you are familiar with “paint by numbers”, you’ll understand my analogy when I say telemedicine by the numbers. That’s what came to mind when I previewed this new app from an Austrian-based company called MedCubes. Their MedCase telemedicine app brings together the myriad of things that a doctor or nurse might need to evaluate a person on the other end of the line. For the patient at home or a patient and clinical facilitator in a nursing home, remote clinic, or remote region of the world, the app provides a kind of “paint by numbers” approach to the interface in order to help organize and carry out a remote telemedicine evaluation.

According to the company’s website, MedCubes software offers a healthcare solution starting from small installations like nursing homes or clinics up to a nationwide health system. Their solution capability includes the MedCubes eHealth software, certified medical equipment with interfaces to the software, online/offline handling and interfaces to transfer data to the responsible medical provider, a video chat system, and a full range of high-quality medical devices including 12-channel ECG, FastECG, stethoscope, oximetry, digital thermometer, blood pressure and blood sugar units, dermascope, otoscope, weight scale, and selected rapid tests. Many of these medical devices connect wirelessly or via Bluetooth to hardware running the application. The MedCase telemedicine app runs on a Windows 8.1 tablet. The company also provides an array of sturdy, medical-grade cases to help organize, store and transport their telemedicine solutions.

Telemedicine is gaining supporters around the world as governments, health ministries, and health provider systems grapple with physician shortages in primary care, mal-distribution of certain medical specialties, and a growing demand for services at lower cost and higher scale. The use of telemedicine is expected to grow significantly in coming years as both government and private insurers expand reimbursement for these services, and patients with high deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts look for less expensive, more convenient ways to access health information and medical services. The MedCubes/MedCase telemedicine application suite should find a receptive audience among healthcare providers who are looking for contemporary, well designed, intuitive ways to deliver telemedicine services to patients around the world. You can find and download the MedCubes/MedCase app from the Windows Store. Just go to the store site and search for MedCubes.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft