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Standard and interoperable satellite solution to deploy Healthcare services over wide areas

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Telemedicine is looking up

Europe's healthcare initiatives can benefit from the use of satellite technology in addition, or as an alternative, to conventional systems connecting healthcare providers. Researchers in the Healthware project have come up with new options for connecting professionals to patients.

Digital Economy

Telemedicine uses communications technology to provide medical care to people remotely. It can be a lifeline for people in inaccessible locations or the housebound. It can provide patients with chronic diseases the care they need without frequent visits to the hospital. Beyond the advantages for patients and the medical profession, the public healthcare savings are significant. E-health services like this are traditionally delivered over terrestrial internet and sometimes via expensive dedicated equipment. Too often, they are not intuitive enough for untrained people or those unfamiliar with computers. Younger people can manage but are not usually the most in need of such services. The 19 Healthware partners from the worlds of telecommunications and engineering, as well as university hospitals came together to demonstrate how satellite technology could be used to provide cost-effective home services for patients and medical training throughout Europe. According to the team, the cost of satellite-based telemedicine would only be a small part of the total cost for healthcare and the return on investment for medical providers high. The researchers looked at five areas in which telemedicine can play a crucial role: disaster response, rural healthcare, patient monitoring, e-learning, and medicine for mobile or offshore users. They identified e-learning and healthcare as the areas most likely to provide immediate return on investment. Pilot studies revealed several advantages in using satellite for telemedicine, especially for remote places out of reach of terrestrial broadband networks. Via satellite, important diagnostic images can be transmitted in real time for consultations between physicians. Satellite can also be useful in tackling interoperability issues between wireless networks, among other benefits. Satellite-based telemedicine, the partners concluded, is capable to meet the dual challenge facing modern healthcare systems - better healthcare without having to spend more for it.

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