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31 January 2011
The 3rd Innovation Day conference organized by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) brought together various telecoms to present new applications for e-health innovation in addition to highlighting the work the European Commission is undertaking in this field with the attendance of Neelie Kroes, the European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda. Focusing on the changing demographics of Europe and the obstacles presented by the increasing expenditures of Member States to healthcare budgets as a result, the telecoms looked to emphasize how their innovations could reduce costs and provide new business models for innovative care.
The highlight of the conference included the presentation of Ms. Kroes as she looked to encourage businesses to innovate in healthcare by clearly pronouncing the commitment of the European Commission to assist in creating the right business conditions for companies to further invest in e-health. She invited businesses to share their ideas with the Commission on how the EU institution can help to remove obstacles to innovation – either through the current consultation on the Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing or through more informal channels. Overall, she maintained that the demand for technology services for all aspects of independent living will continue to grow and the Commission aims to make sure that policy meets those demands.
Much of the conference itself was devoted to the telecoms newest examples of e-health innovation including KPN’s diabeticStation for patients to monitor glucose levels, blood pressure and weight in numerous languages without doctor assistance; Telefonica’s SARA solution for distance monitoring; Telecom Italia’s MyDoctor@home tele-monitoring service; Orange’s medication reminder solution enabling applications for prescriptions; DeutscheTelekom’s tenant portal service for people with disabilities which allows immobile patients to use their eyes to communicate; Belgacom’s Heart Failure project; and Portugal Telecom’s Girassol mobile broadband project for disabled people allowing diagnoses from a distance.
The conference closed with a brief question and answer session with panelists from all the telecom companies in attendance moderated by Constantijn van Oranje of Ms. Kroes cabinet. Though the debate was to be focused on how to ensure a better integration of ICT-enabled solutions by the medical community and users, the telecoms expressed that interoperability between telecom providers will continue to be an obstacle due to the amount of tenders offered by Member States -generally only one provider exists which hinders telecoms working across borders for operability. Additionally, very few telecoms were willing to further describe in detail their business models in the e-health domain.