Clinical Trials Report

September 2000

Nurse-driven community-based diabetes centre first to implement PDA technology to monitor diabetes information.

"Whitby, Ontario.- Compaq Canada Inc., has donated $50,000.00 worth of handheld computers to the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre for Children and Youth, to help patients better manage their conditions through the use of information technology.

The donation includes 40 handheld PCs, one ProLiant server, five Armada Laptop computers, and by Labour day of this year, another 60 Pocket PCs. By then, the approximate donation will be more like $100,000.00.

The Charles H. Best Centre for Children and Youth, has launched a pilot project that makes use of handheld computers and software to log patients blood sugar levels, insulin doses, exercise, meal plans plus high and low blood sugar episodes and illness management. To begin, 20 patients are participating. Compaq Canada Inc. and software developer Optium Digital Solutions have donated the technology to get the project up and running.

"Every 20 minutes someone in Ontario is diagnosed with diabetes and resources for support are being stretched thin," says Marlene Grass, Founder and Executive Director of the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre. "But a course of management exists. A recent 10 year study (the Diabetes Control and Complications Trials) showed that people with Type 1 diabetes have less complications when they work closely with their health care team, reviewing the data on a regular basis.

"This program allows us to dramatically increase the amount of patient data available to the team as well as decrease the amount of administration time involved in collecting the data. With more information, we can work to decrease long term complications which in turn, dramatically lowers health care costs for the province."

"We've taken the traditional method of pen-to-paper and created a digital format" said Nick Zamora, principal at Optium Digital Solutions. "The information is accurate and leads to better communication with clinical staff."

"Instead of spending 20 minutes each day on the phone, young patients can transmit their information in seconds."


5 yr. old Jacob Chartrand uses a handheld computer to monitor his diabetic condition.

Pictured with Jacob are: John Challinor, Compaq Canada and Nick Zamora of Optium Digital Solutions


The information management system is composed of:

  • Hand held computers (e.g. Windows CE and Palm Pilots) with a customized program for patients to enter daily glucose levels, insulin doses, details of acute episodes and how they dealt with the episode

  • A modem that attaches to the hand held computer to automatically dial into a web site and download patient’s information to a secure database for collation, analysis and report generation

  • Real time access to original results and consolidated reports for patients, diabetes educators and other designated health care providers

  • Two-way messaging so the patient can receive care management recommendations for the diabetes educators at The Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre

Patient information is sent by modem over regular phone lines to a secure Website running on a Compaq ProLiant server. Clinical staff at the Best Centre can retrieve the information via the network. The data is password protected and stored in an encrypted form, secured by a firewall."


From: Canadian Healthcare Technology:

September 1999

"TORONTO– Mount Sinai Hospital and 3Com Canada Inc. have entered into an agreement to study the effectiveness of Palm computer devices in a Critical Care Unit. This is said to be the first study of its kind to systematically evaluate the benefits of palm computers as a medical tool.

“Handheld computing technology offers enormous potential for facilitating medical care management, but this has not been formally studied,” says Dr. Stephen Lapinsky, principal investigator for the research project. “We propose to evaluate Palm computer devices in the Critical Care Unit and develop a formal research study to assess the benefits of this technology in the critical care setting.”

As part of the agreement, 3Com is providing Mount Sinai Hospital with 17 Palm IIIx and technical support for the duration of the study."

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