Health Optimum eTEN project of the year 2005 and HealthService24 January 2006 project of the month

Brussels 25 January 2006The visitors of the eTEN Web site have elected Health Optimum as eTEN project of the year 2005. By winning the election, Health Optimum is for 2005 the best communicating eTEN project. Health Optimum is validating a new telemedicine-enabled health care delivery model in three European regions: Veneto in Italy, Aragon in Spain and Funen in Denmark. January 2006 project of the month HealthService24 aims to provide support to the forthcoming changes in the health care industry and give solutions to the problems of the different players in the health market. HealthService24 proposes a solution to these upcoming challenges, by validating and preparing the launch of innovative, mobile patient monitoring and management services. This is done with the design and integration of a health care services platform based on state-of-the-art communication networks and technology.

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The Health Optimum project is a clear winner since it received more than 40 percent of the votes. Voters could choose between 10 different projects. A voter explained his/her vote for Health Optimum by stating that "telemedicine is the future for giving high quality services on the territory". It was also seen as an "innovator" and a project that "may have a good impact on future life".

Second was the Riser project that received over 20 percent of the votes. Their service offers the verification of address information trough access on official registries to companies and citizens. The MAP project received a vote from 14 percent of the Web visitors and became third. The MAP project aims to help public information offices and emergency services to increase the quality of life and the security of citizens.

The services that the Health Optimum project will validate are seen as promoters of far-reaching changes in the way health services are organised and health care is delivered. The project is carrying out an in-depth analysis of the current organisational structures in the targeted countries, to identify and market validate the most suitable set of telemedicine services.

The aim of the project is to verify if demand and offer for telemedicine services match and if the cost of introducing them can be off-set by economies - in the broadest sense of the term - obtained in other parts of the health system. In order to check the economic viability of the service in a public health system, the benefit will be compared to the cost required to deploy and run the telemedicine infrastructure and services. Results from the trials will also be extrapolated to the liberal medicine models to evaluate if and how the Health Optimum services can be deployed in countries which have adopted that model of medicine.

By proposing a system able to enhance the quality of health care services, improve their accessibility by citizens, and ensure their economic and social sustainability, Health Optimum promises to increase appropriateness and accessibility of health care whilst reducing its overall cost to the society.

The election took place for the second time. Last year the eTEN programme has started the project of the year election as part of the eTEN programme's effort to "reach out" and to increase the eTEN Web site's impact. Similar to last year the election was specifically held to decide which project communicates best about the e-Service they have been, or are, validating or deploying. Visitors could vote from 6 until 23 December for one of the 2005 eTEN projects of the month. Everybody could give one vote only.

The turn-out was comparable to last year: almost 800 Web visitors voted. While selecting their favourite project, voters were encouraged to visit each of the ten project Web sites and decide which one would get their vote, on the basis of which presented its objectives and service ambitions and achievements in the clearest and most understandable manner. There is no prize for the winner but the honour of being the best communicating eTEN project of 2005. More information on the winning project can be found at the Health Optimum Web site.

The first project of the month in 2006 is HealthService24. Change in the health care industry is driven and influenced by various forces, like increasing budget and deficit problems stemming from an increase in the number of people with chronic diseases, erosion of traditional business models of the pharmaceutical industry due to shortening period of exclusivity, need for hospitals to manage and control administrative and treatment related costs and most of all increasing demand from the patients to be closely involved in the care process, known as patient empowerment.

The HealthService24 platform is based on advanced concepts and technologies, like Body Area Networks (BAN), 2.5/3G wireless broadband communications (GPRS/UMTS) and wearable medical devices. HealthService24 will provide integrated and comprehensive mobile health care services to patients, such as management of chronic conditions and detection of health emergencies.

HealthService24 aims at developing a viable mobile health care service, permitting health care professionals to remotely and interactively diagnose and treat patients whilst the patients are free to continue their normal daily life activities. The HealthService24 will allow patients and non-patients to monitor their physical condition and obtain advice and information at any place and moment.

The main objective of HealthService24 is to test the feasibility of the deployment of the mobile health care services via trials that will validate the precise conditions to be fulfilled for the subsequent deployment of the services.

The HealthService24 project will address the study of the related social aspects, working conditions and the related economic issues stemming from the deployment of its services on a larger scale, including the changes that will be brought to the processes and practices of the health care organisations and medical personnel. HealthService24 will define the needs, expectations and requirements of all members of the value chain and will create added value and benefits for all value chain members, as only such an approach can make a sustainable market deployment possible.

The HealthService24 consortium consists of 8 partners:

  • Ericsson Enterprise AB, Sweden - Project co-ordination
  • University of Twente, The Netherlands - Project Technical Management
  • University of Cyprus - Hospital Information System support
  • Hospital Clinic Provincial de Barcelona, Spain - Health care provider
  • Medisch Spectrum Twente, The Netherlands - Health care provider
  • Lito Polyclinic Paralimni Ltd., Cyprus - Health care provider
  • TMS International B.V., The Netherlands - Medical Systems manufacturer
  • Yucat B.V., The Netherlands - Mobile Business Solution development

The HealthService24 is aimed at patients and health care professionals. Patients will be able to stay mobile and have a fairly normal lifestyle while being constantly monitored. Constant monitoring is especially important in case of chronic and high-risk patients, e.g. patients discharged early from hospital after a surgery and high-risk pregnant women that require constant monitoring. These patients today are often hospitalised for long periods, resulting in high hospital costs and moral degradation. The HealthService24 will enable them not to stay at a hospital while increasing their feeling of safety and comfort, allowing them to obtain health advice by experts at any moment and place.

At the same time health care costs, resulting from the occupation of a hospital bed will be reduced. The cost reduction aspect makes the service potentially interesting for health insurance companies and governmental institutions paying for medical services.

In September 2005 the integrated system was released by the University of Twente and since then three trial scenarios are running:

  • High Risk Pregnancies in The Netherlands at the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital in The Netherlands
  • COPD Patients at the Hospital Clinic Provincial de Barcelona in Spain
  • Cardiac Patients at the LITO Polyclinic in Cyprus

A business plan has been defined and the technological partners have adapted their strategies in view of the commercialization of the project results. The system has been presented at several international events, like Medica, Mednet, and Contel, and promoted to hospitals and organisations. The project has also been advertised in the press, to government bodies and agencies and seminars and presentations have been given to public schools and universities, both medical and technical.

The HealthService24 project Web site is available providing documentation and information on the project status and evolution. The project has a duration of 18 months, started in February 2005 and will end in July 2006.

eTEN is the European Community Programme designed to help the deployment of telecommunication networks based services - e-services - with a trans-European dimension. It focuses strongly on public services, particularly in areas where Europe has a competitive advantage.


Leslie Versweyveld

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