March 01, 2010 07:00 ET

Veterans Health Administration Receives Grant to Extend Use of Bosch Healthcare's Health Buddy Telehealth System

PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwire - March 1, 2010) -

  • Goal is greater access to proven technologies that can lead to safer, more effective medication use among older adults
  • Targets older veterans with chronic heart failure (CHF) who reside in remote rural or other medically underserved areas in central California

Robert Bosch Healthcare, Inc. -- a leader in telehealth -- has announced that its Health Buddy® remote patient monitoring system will be used by the Veterans Administration of Central California Health Care System to promote better medication adherence in chronically ill veterans. The project is funded by a grant from the Center for Technology and Aging, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping California and the nation more rapidly implement existing technologies that improve home and community-based care for older adults.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) was one of five organizations to receive the Center's Medication Optimization Diffusion Grants aimed at older adults with chronic health conditions. Finding ways to improve medication-related issues may dramatically affect patient care and costs. The New England Healthcare Institute estimates that $290 billion of healthcare expenditures could be avoided if medication adherence were improved.Research has shown that the risk of hospitalization is twice as high in chronically ill individuals who do not take their medications as directed, compared with those who do.2

In its project, the Veterans Administration of Central California Health Care System will target older veterans with chronic heart failure (CHF) who reside in remote rural or other medically underserved areas in central California.

Participating veterans will receive the Health Buddy appliance, an easy to use tabletop device with a display screen and simple four-button interface. Each day, patients use the device at home to answer a series of questions about how they feel, their medications, and their symptoms. Through these daily sessions patients also learn about ways to better manage their conditions, and they receive health tips and reminders to take their medication. The data are sent over a telephone line or Ethernet connection to a secure data center where it is accessed by care managers to track progress and review alerts that act as early warning signs and show potentially serious changes in a patient's health condition.

The Health Buddy System allows physicians to customize the program content for specific patient conditions. For the medication optimization project, the VHA will add a greater emphasis on medication use. If the central California project is successful, the VHA plans to continue the service and replicate it in other areas across the country.

"Medication optimization solutions that reduce the cost and burden of illness among older adults are urgently needed," said David Lindeman, PhD, director of the Center for Technology and Aging. "Our goal with the diffusion grants is to spur greater access to proven technologies that can lead to safer, more effective medication use among older adults."

The VHA has been a leader in telehealth innovation, a concept that is currently attracting much attention for its potential to reduce healthcare costs. The VHA deployed the Health Buddy System in veterans' homes as early as 2001 in a pilot telehealth program, and in 2003 implemented a national home telehealth program to meet a growing need to care for aging veterans with chronic conditions, and enable these patients to live independently at home. Published results of four years of data from the VHA's telehealth program showed a 19 percent reduction in hospitalizations and 25 percent reduction in "bed days of care" for participating patients.3

The VHA has reported strong patient satisfaction with the Health Buddy System. Patients like the simplicity of the Health Buddy appliance. Another feature that distinguishes it from other remote telemonitoring systems is its robust content that incorporates disease education to increase patients' understanding of their conditions and encourages them to take greater responsibility for self-management of their health. Unlike the "canned" programming of other telemonitoring systems, the Health Buddy System utilizes a dynamic response system that decides what questions to ask next based on how the patient answers the current question, so the sessions feel interactive and engaging.

In related news, the Center for Technology and Aging recently released a second technology diffusion grants program focused on remote patient monitoring. Details can be found on their website at

The Center for Technology and Aging is devoted to helping California and the nation more rapidly implement technologies that improve home and community-based care for older adults. Through research, grants, public policy involvement, and development of practical implementation tools, the Center serves as a resource for all those seeking to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of long-term care services. It was established in 2009 with a generous grant from The SCAN Foundation ( and is located at the Public Health Institute ( in Oakland, CA.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. According to preliminary figures, some 270,000 associates generated sales of roughly 38 billion euros in the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology in fiscal 2009. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its more than 300 subsidiaries and regional companies in over 60 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Each year, Bosch spends more than 3.5 billion euros for research and development, and applies for over 3,000 patents worldwide. With all its products and services, Bosch enhances the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as "Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering." The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information can be accessed at

1. New England Healthcare Institute. Thinking Outside the Pillbox: A System-wide Approach to Improving Patient Medication Adherence for Chronic Disease. A NEHI Research Brief, July 2009.
2. Kenreigh C, Wagner L. Medication Adherence: A Literature Review. Posted 10/12/05:
3. Darkins A, Ryan P, Kobb R, et al. Care coordination/home telehealth: the systematic implementation of health informatics, home telehealth, and disease management to support the care of veteran patients with chronic conditions. Telemedicine and e-Health. 2008;14:1118-1126.

For information on the Health Buddy System:

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