Transforming European healthcare with technology

With the number of people in the EU aged 65 and over set to double by 2050, the cost of treating chronic diseases, already amounting to €700bn across the region, will likely continue to rise. One saviour could be personal technologies such as mobile phones, apps, wearables and personal computers which have the potential to dramatically improve health outcomes.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, almost two thirds (64%) of health executives agree that new mobile health (mHealth) technologies and services have the potential to allow patients to access important and useful medical information. In fact, if mHealth’s potential is fully leveraged, it could save Europe a whopping €99 billion in healthcare costs by 2017. With Europe set to overtake North America as the biggest mHealth market by 2018, we’ve taken a look at some innovative examples from across the region:

Danish Banner

In Denmark, social workers and nurses from Bornholm Regional Municipality found themselves visiting patients in their homes, where they didn’t have access to all the information that they needed, requiring them to return to the office to check key details and file reports, lengthening the care process and creating inefficiencies in treatment.

To help improve care and increase the number of home visits that could be made each day, the municipality worked with KMD SmartCare for Windows Phone to improve field access to patient information through a secure solution. The new solution helps Bornholm safeguard patient data with extra encryption and password-protected access, and uses mobile device management to centralize security updates. Marianne Dahl Mertz, an IT consultant at the Bornholm Regional Municipality, strongly believes that mobile solutions are the answer: “Working on the go isn’t new for us, so it doesn’t require any changes in behavior. We have found the Windows Phone solution to be a technological improvement that makes the workday easier for our employees, which benefits citizens.”

With the initial implementation a success, Bornholm plans to expand access to the app in order to target more groups within the healthcare field, such as physical therapists, as well as extending the app to Windows-based tablets to increase health workers’ flexibility and provide better access to the critical data required to ensure Bornholm’s residents get the best possible care.

Italian banner

With over 100,000 mHealth apps currently available, there has been a growing interest in apps that allow people to self-manage their conditions.

Inspired by the possibilities of giving patients this opportunity, #idontgiveanapp, Imagine Cup 2015 finalists from Italy, developed their product HeartWatch, designed to detect cardiac arrhythmia. The app, which continuously checks the user’s heartbeat via the Microsoft Band fitness tracker and generates notifications for anomalies, processes data in real-time in the cloud through Microsoft Azure. Should the user’s condition decline, users can also set the app to alert friends or family by text message.

With a big thumbs up at the Imagine Cup finals, this inspiring student team has already put the wheels in motion for the next steps of testing HeartWatch in the field. Starting from September, Heartwatch will enter into a beta testing phase with the Onlus “Brianza per il Cuore” where patients will be tested wearing both the team’s solution and a Holter monitor to verify how valuable the tool can be for managing heart health conditions.

UK final

With mobile working solutions for community nurses reportedly decreasing paperwork by a staggering 60% and increasing time spent with patients by 29%, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital wanted to take advantage. Clinicians found themselves regularly wasting time going back to shared desktops requiring multiple passwords to access multiple systems in order to log requests for blood tests, check patients’ records and update files. They needed a simple solution to help them work more efficiently wherever they were in the hospital.

OCSL’s acceSSOnce, developed in partnership with Microsoft, allowed clinicians to discharge their desktop from their PCs and work remotely around the hospital, accessing all applications from their Windows tablet or any other device, with Single Sign-On for faster access to all the information they need. Pediatric Consultant at the hospital, Dr. Vana Gandhi, praised this solution, saying “having a portable tablet means that, as soon as the results come through, we can access that information.” Most importantly, faster access to clinical information means less wasted time, enabling clinicians to spend more time doing what they do best — giving high-quality patient care.

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