A report by IT and telecommunications researcher, InfoCom, has highlighted the strong presence of telecom carriers in the e-health industry.
The report shows that a number of telecom carriers across Europe are now involved in the healthcare sector, providing a variety of services.
Research of e-health applications across Europe has shown that carriers such as British Telecom (BT) and T-Systems have a large presence in national e-health strategies – BT is responsible for NHS London’s IT, the Spine and the N3 internet connection in England and T-Systems is deploying the backbone for the German national electronic health cards project.
Meanwhile, smaller mobile phone operators, such as Vodafone and Deutsche Telecom have also recently launched applications for patients.
InfoCom reports that Vodafone has launched Vodafone Care in Germany, a service hotline staffed with a qualified team of doctors and assistants operated through Vitaphone, a German e-health service provider.
“Vodafone Germany is not offering healthcare solutions targeting professionals itself, but is supporting several partners developing own solutions, by providing them with GPRS/UMTS laptop data cards free of charge during field tests,” the report says.
As E-Health Europe has previously reported, global mobile phone network provider Orange has also created a division to compete in the e-health market, named Orange Healthcare, launched in France, with Orange France Télécom.
An Orange spokesperson told EHE: “We are aiming to be the driving force of e-health. This is a huge market because of trends, and because patients are unaware of its possibilities. We want to be able to provide services to both the medical and to the elderly and disabled markets. In an industry worth €450 billion for e-health, we believe that our technology will allow health to adapt to the changing world around us.”
Elsewhere, InfoCom says that Deutsche Telekom has launched a new project through its subsidiary T-Systems and is currently testing some solutions, such as telemonitoring of patients with chronic heart disease.
A T-Systems spokesperson told EHE: “To deliver quality and efficiency, healthcare requires sophisticated ICT and telematics infrastructures geared to the specific needs of this unique sector. The goal is integrated care based on the seamless flow of information.
T-Systems provides state-of-the-art integrated solutions, including support for entire medical processes.
“T-Systems is actively involved in a number of e-health projects, including electronic patient cards, health professional cards for physicians, and electronic prescriptions. All of these projects improve patient care by creating new forms of electronic communication in the healthcare sector.”
The report says: “While e-health solutions targeting end-customers are still few, more choices are available for healthcare services targeting professionals… France and Spain seem to be the most dynamic European markets for e-health solutions targeting end-customers whereas as of new such services launched in other countries, for instance in Germany, in the UK, in Italy or in Portugal, most of such applications target professional users, for instance hospitals and health insurances rather than end-customers.”
The research focused on over 30 vendors and service providers operating in 15 European countries.