Rise of the internet and telehealth in India

An interesting post in the British Medical Journal Blog (blogs.bmj.com) yesterday by a former president of the Telemedicine Society of India, K Ganapathy, suggests that India may be leap frogging the West in telehealth. (It is well accepted that many developing countries leap frogged in the telecommunications race when they skipped one or more steps in the process to catch up with the latest mobile telecoms technology.)

Ganapathy says that in a recent survey 48% of those responding in rural India and 72% in urban India had heard of mHealth and 55% overall intended to use mHealth if available. He says that the Indian Government is setting up 100,000 internet centres in rural India and suggests that extending these into remote telehealth access points is a reality. Read the whole posting here.

Telehealth in remote areas in NZ using videoconferencing

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/NZ-ITHB-logo.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]”When patient Whiti Fletcher went to Kaitaia Hospital’s renal unit for her regular dialysis, she had the complication of chest pains. Through a videoconferencing link, Mrs Fletcher was assessed by a renal specialist at Whangarei Hospital, who decided she was able to have dialysis at the unit in Kaitaia as planned, rather than face the four-hour return trip to Whangarei Hospital.” This is the example presented by the IT Health Board of the New Zealand Ministry of Health when describing the use of telehealth in the sparsely populated northern region of the New Zealand’s North Island. (more…)

Queensland Government to invest $31m in telehealth

The health minister of Queensland, Lawrence Springborg, has announced that the Queensland Government will invest $31m in telehealth over the next 4 years, according to a report in Brisbane Times.  It seems the spend will be primarily in remote consultation systems. The minister has said that the $30m of remote consultation equipment deployed by the previous government of Anna Bligh had largely failed to deliver, but has admitted that some of these are used for carrying out up to 25 consultations a day.

Read the full article here.

Telehealth and Broadband in Australia

Australia appears to be in the midst of a debate on the cost of building a national broadband network. According to the NBN Co which is buildng the network, the aim is to provide broadband to every home, school and workplace by the end of the next ten years. Nick Ross writing in ABC’s website suggests that just the ability to deploy telehealth and telecare nationally over such a network would save Australia enough money to more than pay for the network.

The arguments for deploying telehealth in Australia are no different to those in other parts of the developed world. The Australian healthcare budget is 10% of GDP (9% in UK) and growing at twice the rate of GDP, according to the very comprehensive article.

With a $967 price tag for a single night’s hospital stay, the economic benefit identified for using telehealth to monitor patients at home after earlier release from hospital or to avoid hospital admission altogether are very familiar. Add to that the use of telecare to allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer and Nick Ross’s article has covered all the elements for supporting telehealth and telecare.

Read the full article here.

Ambient Assisted Living Forum 2013

The AAL Forum is billed as an annual platform for the growing “ambient assisted living” – telehealth and telecare – community in Europe to meet and discuss AAL. It is also a showcase event for people involved in the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme which is an initiative involving 20 EU and 3 non-EU countries, with public funding from EU and partner states. This year the Forum meets in Norrköping in Sweden from 24th to 26th of September.

The full programme, a link to the online registration web page, information on the associated exhibition and archived information on the past 4 years’ AAL Forums can be accessed from the AAL Forum website.


[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/EKTG-logo.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]European Knowledge Tree Group Workshop

A side event at this year’s AAL Forum, this workshop will be held on the 24th of September.  The EKTG is  an  ad-hoc group concerned with the real impact of R&D in the area of ageing and “brings together users, technologists, financiers and governments”. The workshop aims to review the technology of Apps from development, opportunities, appropriateness to costs and finance. To register for the EKTG workshop visit the registration page here.

Telecare LIN July newsletter is out

The July Telecare LIN newsletter has been published and is available for download here. This month Mike has two short items on the Kings Fund congress earlier in the month and the transfer of 3ML from DH to NHS England plus the usual monthly round up of news with the top item being O2’s pull out from telecare and telehealth.

Gestational Diabetes Telehealth trial at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/John-Radcliffe-Hospital.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Diabetes in pregnant women, known as gestational diabetes, is said to have significantly increased over the past 20 years and affects 1 in 20 pregnant women in the UK. This  is probably caused by an excess intake of carbohydrates, says Dr Lucy Mackillop of John Radcliffe Hospital, in an interview in Inside Health on BBC Radio 4, broadcast on 23 July 2013.

A foetus growing in a high sugar environment can lead to an overweight baby resulting in birth difficulties. Such babies may also develop problems such as diabetes in later life. Gestational diabetes also carries all the usual dangers of diabetes for mother.

If a pregnant woman has one of 5 risk factors she will be fully tested for diabetes and if she is diabetic, she will be monitored during preganancy. Monitoring typically may be a fortnightly hospital visit, but at the John Radcliffe there is a trial of 50 mothers who have been given special blood sugar meters which connect to smart phones via Bluetooth.

A daily blood sugar test result is transmitted to the hospital where software picks out patients that may need attention by a midwife, and changes to the treatment regime can be implemented if necessary. This saves many unnecessary hospital visits while giving a much more frequent review of the state of the patients.

Download the full programme from the BBC Radio 4 podcast page.

Telemedicine in rural parts of developing countries

Implementing “telemedicine” in developing countries is one way to spread the availability of healthcare to the poor in remote rural areas, says an article in Unite for Sight.

Without access to advanced laboratories, healthcare workers rely on evaluating symptoms to diagnose illnesses. Even then, the shortage of trained healthcare workers, particularly in rural areas, means alternative approaches are often needed. Telemedicine in this scenario is often limited to telephone consultations with specialist consultants and image and data exchange using the internet.

The unavailability of widespread basic infrastructure is however a limiting factor – creating a new “digital divide”.

Read more about the problems surrounding getting healthcare to the poor in developing countries at Healthcare Technology in Resource-poor settings and the Guardian article Getting medicines to the poor: solving the logistics challenge.