Healthcare Everywhere : How Communications IT Can Solve the Health Care Crisis

By: Becky Bracken

Accuracy and efficiency are what communications IT bring to any industry. And there is no industry more in need of a IT facelift than medicine. Modern medicine can do amazing things. But trying to get records sent to a specialist across town, or even paying a hospital bill, can sometimes seem like an impossible task.

“mHealth can be one of the keys to redefining and reinvigorating our struggling healthcare systems, as well as enhancing the healthy lifestyles and longevity of our citizens,” Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO, Telenor Group says. “The telecommunications industry is well-positioned to play a central role in the evolution of mobile health solutions worldwide.”

Even one of the cornerstones of so-called Obamacare is a switch to electronic medical records. Undoubtedly, there is a play for almost every SP willing to jump into the fray.

A report from the Telenor Group and the Boston Consulting Group estimates that about 30 percent of smartphone users are likely to use wellness apps by 2015. And for governments--most notably the United States--looking to drive down the cost of health care, remote access to centralized electronic health records can reduce administrative burdens by 20 to 30 percent.

The report identifies seven categories of mHealth applications: Public information/education; Public wellness; Patient monitoring/compliance management; HC worker information/education; Diagnostic and treatment support; Public health surveillance/tracking; and Remote data recording/access.

Large carriers like Verizon believe they can transform the way medicine is delivered. It recently entered into a strategic partnership with Health Evolution Partners and launched Health Evolution, a program dedicating to transforming the delivery of health care. The carrier even has a chief medical officer on staff, Dr. Peter Tippett. “Strong collaboration across the health care ecosystem is essential to enabling health IT transformation,” Dr. Tippett says. “Verizon is committed to building strategic relationships to help spur the adoption of connected health technologies.”

Telemedicine and the Cloud

The sheer quantity of data generated by Telemedicine and always-on monitoring is going to require vast amounts of storage in the cloud where it can be accessed and updated in real time. And with critical life and death decisions being made based on the data being available anywhere, anytime, network infrastructure is a first critical step.

BT and it's supercharged virtual private network for the UK's NHS is the largest of its kind. The N3, one of Europe's largest private networks with more than 1 million health care providers using it daily. In October of 2011, BT announced it more than doubled the capacity of the N3 private broadband network to more than 250 terabytes of data a month--equivalent to nearly 55,000 standard DVDs worth of data.


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