Ways To Improve Care/Reduce Healthcare Expenduture

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The Health and Fitness Blog

The Health & Fitness Blog is a collection of diary entries, news, gossip and other Health and fitness related information.

Ways To Improve Care/Reduce Healthcare Expenduture
29th March 2006. Cambridge, UK: In an effort to cut costs and improve efficiency, healthcare providers are pushing key elements of the care process out from hospitals to the edge of their healthcare networks. This process has created a market for wireless based ehealth devices and healthcare services provided across mobile networks. Cambridge UK based analysts, Wireless Healthcare , will be describing a range of emerging and established mobile ehealth applications when it presents its '101 Things To Do With A Mobile Phone In Healthcare' report at a special interest group meeting being run alongside with the Connected Care Forum on 3rd April.

Wireless Healthcare will also describe subtle changes that are taking place within the European ehealth market. At present, some of the most successful implementations of mobile ehealth are supported by insurance companies in Germany and Switzerland. Mobile operators, such as Vodafone, are already earning revenue from these services and from other call centre supported ehealth initiatives such as NHS Direct in the UK.

According to Wireless Healthcare , applications such as SMS (text message) patient reminders are an early indication of the move towards automated communication between the health provider and the patient. “It is easy to see text message based appointment reminders as an end point rather than a first step towards medication reminders and complete health management solutions,” states Kruger. In the UK, data on the number of patients failing to keep appointments is published on a regular basis. This has made it simple to assess the economic impact of patient reminder systems.
However, according to Kruger, people tend to overlook other benefits of automated mobile communications – such as the ability of health providers and social services to co-ordinate the care of the mentally ill and to track a patient's compliance with medication.

At the Healthcare Special Interest Group meeting, organised by Cambridge Wireless, Peter Kruger will describe an emerging model for ehealth that is less reliant on call centres and is, instead, based around advanced healthcare technologies such as personalised medicine and clinical genomics. (Large IT vendors, such as IBM, are already working on technology that supports this next generation of ehealth services.) He will also outline the challenges and opportunities for device manufacturers and mobile communications vendors as incumbent healthcare providers claw back some of the services currently being hosted by independent third party ehealth providers.

“Eventually we will see the emergence of a sophisticated ecosystem of ehealth services,” Kruger explains. “This ecosystem will include applications as diverse as diet analysis, vital signs monitoring and capsule endoscopy. Unfortunately, at present, it is not clear where the mobile network operator will fit into this ecosystem as many of these new applications will cannibalise revenue generated from mobile calls to call centres. As well, the core technology to support new ehealth platforms will require substantial research and development effort at a time when mobile operators are still attempting to generate a return from recent acquisitions and expenditure on 3G. Investors may be unwilling to support spending on new services that provide less shareholder value than online games or voice.”

According to Wireless Healthcare, the prospect for IT vendors and small ehealth device developers is more encouraging, as both are required to complete the network of services the health provider needs to drive down the cost of healthcare and provide domiciliary health workers with tools to care for patients within the community.

Posted : 30/03/2006 00:23:26

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