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By Hank Russell
The European telemedicine market is starting to show signs of life. According to the research firm Frost & Sullivan ( London, UK), telemedicine will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42%, from €72.2 million ($87.9 million) in 2003 to €1.5 billion in 2010. Governmental agencies are getting involved in this upcoming medical trend.
The European Space Agency ( Rennes, France) is establishing a Telemedicine via Satellite Programme after meeting with telemedicine experts at the Road Map Symposium earlier this year. The symposium, hosted by the European Space Research Institute ( Frascati, Italy), featured representatives from the World Health Organization, as well as doctors, administrators and industry executives involved in the health sector.
ESA is getting end-users involved in the working group, nearly all of whom are directly involved in healthcare. Discussions took place among the participants and working group members who reported on the eight areas of telemedicine under study — interconnectivity for healthcare services, services for citizens, healthcare at home, mobility, early warning of environmental health risks, eHealth education and vision for eHealth and telemedicine via satellite.
Two recent examples involve how telemedicine is working, thanks to ESA Telecom funding. One was a Canadian project for telehealth visits. Through the use of a television and a wireless health monitoring kit, nurses are able to check the patients’ health form their office or even their home. As a result, nurses are able to make 15 to 20 “visits” a day, compared to six to eight home visits they would physically make. Because no travel costs are involved and all data is transferred electronically, there is less paperwork to perform. Patients also benefit, especially those living in remote areas, as they no longer have to leave their homes to receive health care. Increased monitoring has also led to fewer hospital referrals.