The Telemedicine Reporter-International Updates

New White House panel eyes ‘expansion of health technology systems’

Improving access to healthcare and strengthening federal engagement with healthcare providers and telecommunications services providers are among priorities for rural American communities  intended to be addressed by the new White House Rural Council. A White House press release elaborated by including “improve access to quality health care through expansion of health technology systems” among “key factors for growth” the Council will address. The Council — established by President Obama through a June 9 Executive Order – will be chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and include the heads of 25 federal Cabinet departments, agencies, and offices, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

WHO: Most member nations adopt mHealth, but not mobile telemedicine

A World Health Organization study released at the Mobile Health Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, found that 83% of 114 member states offer at least one type of mHealth service. The four most common mHealth services are health call centers (59%), emergency toll-free phone numbers (55%), management of emergencies and disasters (54%), and mobile telemedicine (49%). According to the study, WHO will develop databases providing information on best practices; and work with the International Telecommunication Union to develop “meaningful and measurable indicators” for evaluating mHealth programs, and to guide member states in crafting data privacy and security policies.

Telehealth monitoring market projected to reach $3.1B by 2017

The markets that comprise telehealth monitoring will quintuple over a seven-year period, to $3.1 billion by 2017 from $607.5 million in 2010, WinterGreen Research concluded in its new report, “Tele-Health Monitoring: Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2011 to 2017.” According to the report, telehealth monitoring equipment markets are growing because units decrease the cost of care delivery while improving the quality of care and the quality of lifestyle available to patients. While consistent, real-time oversight improves ongoing treatment, keeps patients healthier, and avoids costly hospitalization, more work is needed to identify profiles of patients most likely to benefit from telemonitoring, the report added.

Telemedicine platform proves functional in rural Greece, Italy, and Cyprus

An integrated platform for providing telemedicine and e-health in rural sections of Greece, Italy, and Cyprus has proven to be functional, a research team concluded in a recent study in BioMedical Engineering OnLine. Further actions are needed so that local healthcare systems and population groups become more familiar with and use technology-based healthcare services, the team also found. The platform delivers telecollaboration and teleconsultation services between remotely located healthcare providers, emergency telemedicine services, home telecare services for “at-risk” citizens such as the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, and training of both healthcare personnel and persons supporting “at risk” citizens.

Telemedicine tech developers should keep nurses in mind

Telemedicine can help provide new ways of offering nursing services more efficiently and effectively, while enabling older nurses to continue monitoring patients without the risk of injury from bedside care, a review article in Gerontology concluded. The report recommended that technology developers consider specific features that nurses want and need from technology support systems – as well as team up with nurses and other clinical professionals to ensure that workspaces are designed to be user-centered, and to avoid nurse workarounds. Ultimately, nurses want to nurse their patients, not a technology, according to the report.

French measure would bill some telemedicine services same as in-person visits

New legislation would allow French doctors to bill their government for some medical services provided over the phone at the same rate that they invoice for services provided in their offices or hospitals. Physicians could bill for telemedicine services in four situations: Consultations without the physical presence of the patient, who may be alone or accompanied by another physician in loco, to clarify clinical data or collaborate in the physical examination; exchange of medical information between two physicians or specialists; medical follow-ups; and during “teleassistance” of a physician performing a medical procedure. The legislation is aimed at promoting the use of telemedicine and redressing regional inequities in medical services.

India’s HMRI honored for telemedicine solution that reduces maternal morbidity

Health Management and Research Institute (HMRI), a nonprofit organization that promotes information and communication technologies to policy makers, government and private healthcare providers across India, has won the NASSCOM and KPMG “Healthcare IT Awards 2011” for “Best Technology Solution for Healthcare Inclusion.” HMRI, supported by Piramal Healthcare, was honored for its telemedicine solution, which integrates patient records, diagnostics, physical examination and clinical outcomes to reduce maternal morbidity in Vallabhi village of Khammam district and the tribal belt of Araku valley in Andhra Pradesh. HMRI says its telemedicine solution resulted in 279 live births out of 287 pregnancies that came to term in the last four months.

Study projects 1.2M telehealth consultations per year in Canada in a decade or less

Telemedicine will grow in Canada to 1.2 million consultations a year in five to 10 years, assuming annual growth of between 20% and 40%, according to a study released May 30 by Canada Health Infoway, a nationally funded not-for-profit that promotes development and adoption of information and communications technology projects. Canada Health Infoway commissioned the study, conducted by Praxia Information Intelligence and Gartner. The study, “Telehealth Benefits and Adoption – Connecting People and Providers across Canada,” reported that telemedicine enjoyed 35% annual growth over the past five years, with almost 260,000 telehealth sessions held in 2010 across Canada — which has more than 5,700 telehealth systems in at least 1,175 communities. Purposes ranged from remote care to education for health providers and administrative meetings. Nearly half of the clinical Telehealth sessions delivered care to patients from rural and remote communities, which are home to 21% of Canadians. The study also projected that Canadians saved about C$70 million ($71.5 million) in personal travel costs last year, while the nation’s health system reaped C$55 million ($56.1 million) in benefits due to avoided travel costs or reduced hospitalizations for patients with chronic diseases.

Study links telemedicine to slower decline in cognitive skills among seniors

Improved diabetes control in the elderly through a telemedicine intervention was associated with less global cognitive decline, a research team concluded in a study abstracted here . The team, led by Jose A. Luchsinger, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center (New York, NY), developed a randomized trial of telemedicine vs. usual care in elderly persons with type 2 diabetes. A total 2,169 persons 55 years and older with type 2 diabetes from New York City and upstate New York participated in the study, which included implementing a diabetes case management intervention through a diabetes nurse, via a telemedicine unit in the participant’s home. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), were measured during a baseline visit and at up to five annual follow-up visits. Improvements in HbA1c — but not SBP or LDL — slowed down the effect of the intervention on cognitive decline.

Teams from France, Switzerland develop remote ultrasound technology

French-Swiss teams of researchers and two start-up companies have developed a remote ultrasound machine allowing specialists in other hospitals to see images in real time, pinpoint where they are coming from, and interact with doctors caring directly for patients. Partners in the project included Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL); an EPFL startup Atracsys (Le Mont-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland); Lausanne University Hospital (Switzerland); Université de Franche-Comté (Besançon, France); Besançon-based Covalia; and the Centre Hospitalier Régional et Universitaire de Besançon.

Actelis brings telemedicine, public services to Canada’s Northwest Territories

More than 40,000 people living within a 440,000-square-mile region in Canada’s sparsely populated Northwest Territories have been connected to telemedicine, schools, and other public services through an Ethernet-over-copper network deployed by Actelis Networks (Freemont, CA). Actelis combined its EFMplus™ technology with existing copper infrastructure to create a centralized network that linked health care providers, doctors and specialists, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, as well as educators. The network took less time to build and cost less than traditional fiber-based networks, according to Actelis.

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