Telefónica launches e-health initiative

Demonstrating the growing importance of the healthcare sector in the operator community, Spain-based Telefónica on Tuesday launched a global e-health unit tasked with the decentralisation of clinical processes and ubiquitous and remote access to these services.

According to presentations given in Madrid on Tuesday, by Trinidad Jiménez, Spain’s minister of health, and Telefónica chairman, César Alierta, in 2010, 13.5 per cent of the world’s population – 980 million people – will be over 65, and 60 per cent of these will suffer from chronic and degenerative illnesses. This situation, combined with the current shortfall of specialists in key medical assistance sectors, and the fact that these specialists must spend between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of their time on administrative tasks instead of healthcare activities, are putting additional pressure on public healthcare budgets.

In this context, containing IT costs in the healthcare sector can be achieved through digital standards leading to interoperability, and the use of business intelligence in risk management and patient-centred projects.

According to Telefónica, which is currently participating in over 80 projects in the e-health segment in over nine countries, telemedicine and remote telecare, and greater network integration through ICTs represent the opportunity to optimise resources and budgets, improve productivity and establish an efficient cooperation system between health centres and professionals.

Commenting on the launch of the global e-health unit, which will develop product lines for all countries Telefónica operates in, Alierta said: “This global unit has a cross-company character, and already has local units in Spain, Europe and Latin America, composed of professionals who define the strategy and planning of services and their industrialisation, operation and support. It aims to become a standard bearer in the areas of products, pilot projects and know-how.”

The new unit will build on Telefónica’s existing efforts including the creation of the Living Lab R&D department in Granada in 2005, with products and services based on converging communications, managed web services with point-to-point coverage and a pay-per-use policy, and a model that provides economies of scale to extend applications with a minimum outlay on technology.

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