EC promotes deep, lasting integration of excellence capacities in European research and industry with regard to new health systems and services

Amsterdam 22 April 2002At the recent ICCS 2002 Conference, Dr. Andreas Lymberis from the European Commission's Directorate General for the Information Society, co-organised the special session on 3G Medicine. In an introductory talk, Dr. Lymberis gave a short overview of present and future market trends in the area of mobile and wireless health care and also laid out EC plans for funding and setting up integrated projects and networks of excellence within the Sixth Framework Programme starting in 2003.

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In the last century, health care has seen the rise of information technology (IT) allowing the automation of health systems, with implementation starting in the eighties. With the development and installation of advanced information and communication technology (ICT) tools, the era of telemedicine was inaugurated. In the nineties, the Trojan horse was taken in and ICT solutions were adopted in a rapid way. Now, the arrival of mobile and wireless devices again is changing the face of health care profoundly and will turn telemedicine into an ubiquitous public service for the citizen and patient, as Dr. Lymberis showed.

Currently, we witness a paradigm shift in health care from a singular focus on disease treatment to a multi-faceted approach which includes preventive medicine and the enhancement of the people's life quality in general. Instead of dealing with patients, health professionals in the 21st century will be challenged to serve customers in an ambient, intelligent and knowledge-based infrastructure, supported by wireless technology for health monitoring, telemetry, trauma care, hospital-ambulance interaction, and by wearable devices, as the speaker pointed out.

Mr. Bradford Holmes from Forrester Research Inc. predicts that by 2007, the expected e-physician market for mobile and wireless devices will amount to 1,6 billion dollar. The use of Medical Digital Assistants (MDAs), in analogy with personal digital assistants (PDAs), will be heavily promoted in e-care. Wireless enabled handhelds will show a growth of 50 percent by 2005, according to Harris Interactive's, a United States Consultant Agency. At present, home care constitutes the fastest growing segment in medical technology. From 2010, revenue from 3G services is anticipated to rise to 1 teradollar or $1 trillion.

Needless to point out that the health sector is facing more than a few important challenges in the years to come. Dr. Lymberis stressed the need for thought-out strategies and synergies, a step-by-step implementation of integrated services, and the installation of networks for embedded wireless devices. He invited all interested parties to actively participate in the building of an efficient and user-friendly e-health society.

Therefore and already in view of the Sixth Framework Programme, the European Commission is launching a call to submit expressions of interest for integrated projects and networks of excellence before June 7, 2002. More information can be downloaded from the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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