Siemens Signs Agreement to License Microsoft HealthVault

UNTERSCHLEISSHEIM/MANNHEIM, Germany — Jan. 28, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. and Siemens AG (through its Siemens IT Solutions and Services division) have announced the signing of a licensing agreement to introduce Microsoft HealthVault in Germany. HealthVault, a personal health application platform, enables individuals to store their health information including immunizations, disease history and prescriptions in an online account. The vision of the Microsoft-Siemens relationship is to enable German citizens to connect to various systems run by physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and even fitness facilities for a comprehensive view of their personal health information. Siemens will be the exclusive operator of HealthVault in Germany and will market the platform to developers, application providers and device manufacturers to join the service and provide citizens with tools that will help foster dynamic, trusted and personalized healthcare.

HealthVault is a personal health application platform that enables individuals to store, share and manage their health information online and make them available to healthcare providers and family members that they select. Users can store information from multiple sources, including medical monitoring devices, to measure things like blood pressure, pulse and weight; diagnostic findings from general practitioners and medical specialists; imaging procedures; and training plans developed by physiotherapists and rehabilitation facilities. In addition to manually entering the information, data from certified devices can be transferred through a personal computer into HealthVault accounts using HealthVault Connection Center.

Security-Enhanced Platform for Health Data

The security-enhanced platform enables individuals to confidentially manage their personal health data. Users are able to access their data virtually anytime, from anywhere, and decide for themselves who is granted access to the information. Siemens will host all stored health data in security-enhanced datacenters in Germany. To help protect consumer privacy, user data is transmitted through an encrypted connection over the Internet. As their own health managers, users keep control of the information stored in HealthVault and can decide the people who are permitted access.

“In Siemens IT Solutions and Services, we have found a reliable and competent partner with whom we can jointly bring innovative solutions to the German healthcare system. With HealthVault, we provide citizens with a platform that allows them to better manage their health and the health of their families, and facilitates their communication with providers,” said Angelika Gifford, senior director, Public Sector and member of Management at Microsoft Germany.

“With the deployment of the HealthVault technology, Siemens contributes to the supply of affordable and personalized healthcare. At the same time, Siemens IT Solutions and Services completes its eHealth portfolio and expands the existing good relationship with Microsoft in the healthcare market,” said Frank Hauber, head of Business Unit Industry, Energy, Healthcare of Siemens IT Solutions and Services Germany.

First Market Launch in Europe

Microsoft initially launched HealthVault in the United States in 2007. Germany is now the third country worldwide where the platform will be available. With the operation of this platform, Siemens IT Solutions and Services is expanding its eHealth portfolio and opening up ways for organizations in the German healthcare sector and the fitness and wellness industry to develop citizen services based on this technology. In the United States, over 150 companies, ranging from health insurance companies and manufacturers of medical devices to pharmacies, are currently offering online applications for the HealthVault platform.

About Microsoft in Health

Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 12 years Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers, and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Amalga and HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to advance a vision of unifying health information and making it more readily available, ensuring the best quality of life and affordable care for everyone.

"Homepods" helping lung patients in Bute

‘Homepods’ helping lung patients

By Eleanor Bradford
BBC Scotland health correspondent

Patients with lung problems on the Isle of Bute are using medical “homepods” to avoid being admitted to hospital.

The devices have been fitted in the homes of 15 patients who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – which causes breathing problems.

They allow clinicians to remotely monitor health and decide when hospital admission is required.

Health officials said the trial had cut air ambulance missions and the number of days patients spent in hospital.

Jim Simons, 72, is one of the patients on the island using a homepod.

We think the outlay we’ve already spent on the pods is worth it to keep people well in their own homes
Lynn Garrett NHS Highland

Since using the device he has managed to avoid emergency hospital admissions.

“Before I had the machine I was up at the hospital two or three times a week,” he said.

“Now if I get a bit uptight I’ll enter the data and I usually get a phone call within an hour.”

Click the link to read more and watch a video about this telehealthcare project

Another video about the homepod

Blackpool Telehealth Pilot Sees 75% Reduction in Hospital Admissions

Telehealth Pilot Sees 75% Reduction in Hospital Admissions

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Blackpool Council’s Vitaline and NHS Blackpool have reported on the success of the use of telehealth home monitoring to support people with long-term conditions to enable them to live independently at home.

Telehealth led to a 75% reduction in hospital admissions for the COPD & Heart Disease patients on the 12-month pilot, as well as an 85% reduction in GP visits and a 43% reduction in home visits by community matrons during the pilot, alleviating pressure on care providers and ensuring resources can be deployed effectively where needed most.

It is predicted that by 2010, 52% of Blackpool’s over-65 population will have a limiting long-term condition. To address this issue, monitoring centre Blackpool Vitaline and NHS Blackpool launched a telehealth pilot with telehealth technology from Tunstall Healthcare to remotely monitor the vital signs of 13 patients who are under the case management of community matrons.

In addition to the cost and efficiency gains delivered to the NHS, telehealth has increased patients’ understanding and knowledge of their conditions, reducing anxiety and increasing quality of life.

A detailed survey of patients showed 80% of respondents strongly agreed that they had a better understanding of their medical conditions and felt they were contributing to the management of their condition while 70% strongly believed their quality of life had improved.

Click this link to read more about this telehealth project

Scots health service is damned as worst in UK

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    A damning report today says Scotland has the worst-performing health service in the UK

Brian Currie and Helen Puttick

Published on 20 Jan 2010

A damning report today says Scotland has the worst-performing health service in the UK despite being better funded than England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It finds that while Scotland has the highest levels of poor health, the country has more hospital doctors, GPs, and nurses per head of population, but productivity is the worst and inpatient admissions are the lowest.

Today’s report by the Nuffield Trust is the first to compare Scotland’s health record since devolution with regions of England, as well as the four nations as a whole. Even areas with a similar socio-economic profile to Scotland appear to do more with less money.

In 2006, Scotland spent 6% more than the north-east of England but treated fewer patients in hospital, according to the report, which says staff in the north-east had “far higher levels of crude productivity”.

The authors question whether, instead of addressing entrenched health problems, the extra money spent in Scotland allows health service staff to do less work.

The study, using figures from 2006/07, tracked performance against expenditure, staffing levels, outpatient appointments, inpatient admissions and day cases, waiting times and staff productivity.

It found that less money was spent in England, it had fewer doctors, ­nurses and managers per head of population than the devolved countries but was making better use of resources.

Trust director Dr Jennifer Dixon said: “A key question for the NHS in all four countries, especially in the current economic climate, must be whether or not value for money is being obtained.”

The report said that health services across the UK had enjoyed “massive increases in funding” since devolution but Scotland “appears to perform less well than anywhere else on almost every measure examined”.

Read the rest of this Scottish healthcare article here

The Main findings from the Nuffield Trust are below

The main findings are:

  • Historically Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had higher levels of funding per capita for NHS care than England. However, the research suggests the NHS in England spends less and has fewer doctors, nurses and managers per head of population than the health services in the devolved countries, but that it is making better use of the resources it has in terms of delivering higher levels of activity, crude productivity of its staff and lower waiting times.
  • Scotland has the highest levels of poor health, the highest rates of expenditure, the highest rates of hospital doctors, GPs and nurses per capita, and yet it has the lowest rates of crude productivity of its staff and the lowest rates of inpatient admissions per head of population in 2006/7.
  • In 2006, Wales had the lowest rate of day cases but the highest rate of outpatient attendances, while Northern Ireland had the lowest rate of outpatient attendances but the highest rate of inpatient admissions and day cases.
  • The performance of Wales and Northern Ireland in key measures of waiting has been poor compared with England (Scotland’s waiting times could not be compared with those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the three time points because they were measured in a different way). By 2006, virtually no patients in England waited more than three months for an outpatient appointment, whereas in Wales and Northern Ireland 44 per cent and 61 per cent of patients did. By 2006, virtually all patients in England who needed inpatient or day case treatment were seen within six months, while in Wales and Northern Ireland 79 per cent and 84 per cent of patients waited longer than this.

Read the full report from the Nuffield Trust

Telehealth applications will increase to over one million in 2014

A new report from InMedica, on the world market for telehealth, forecasts that the number of gateways used in telehealth applications will increase to over one million in 2014 and to around 3.6 million in 2018. The initiatives taken by governments and private healthcare providers to increase reimbursements and reduce the legal and liability issues will help in the roll out of telehealth as a mainstream technology for remote disease and home-health monitoring. InMedica predicts telehealth will start to be used by healthcare providers on a wider scale from 2012 onwards. This gives a two to three year window for the current market barriers to be overcome, including demonstrating the benefits of telehealth on a large scale to health insurance companies.

In 2009, health hubs were the most widely used telehealth gateways, constituting about 80% of the total gateways market. InMedica believes that in the short to medium term, health hubs will remain the most practical solution for professional healthcare providers to supply to patients, as the infrastructure can then be standardised and simplified on a large scale. Even though the number of integrated cellular handsets used as telehealth gateways was estimated to be small in 2009, they are forecast to grow to over 350 thousand in 2014. According to Neha Khandelwal, market research analyst at InMedica, “The use of mobile phones as telehealth gateways has had a surge of interest over the last couple of years; with patients and device companies recognising the benefits of data transmission on the move. We anticipate that cellular service providers will play an increasingly important role in the long-term future of the telehealth market.”

InMedica forecasts that health hubs will increasingly be for managing disease conditions such as CHF and COPD. However, for disease conditions such as diabetes, cellular handsets will find an increasing acceptance. A number of device companies have launched diabetes management programs that use cellular handsets for transmitting blood-glucose readings to care professionals. Sufferers of diabetes are already used to regular self-monitoring with blood glucose meters. Progressing to a telehealth service will not be a massive lifestyle change for them, so compliance should not be a huge hurdle. Moreover, receiving regular feedback on their condition would be a great benefit.

MedApps Launch Remote Monitoring Pilot for CHF Patients

MedApps and Meridian Health Launch Remote Monitoring Pilot for CHF Patients

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 14, 2010 – MedApps, Inc., a leading mHealth (mobile / remote health monitoring) company, announced today that it will partner with Meridian Health, a leading comprehensive healthcare provider in New Jersey, to initiate a chronic disease management pilot focused on patients discharged from acute care settings with  Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).  The focus of the program is to monitor the participants on a daily, near real-time basis, to improve patient outcomes and decrease re-admissions to the hospitals within 30 days.

Meridian will deploy MedApps’ products, featuring HealthPAL and HealthCOM, to provide specific biometric data  (i.e. weight) for review by collaborating monitoring nurses and attending physicians. The program’s objectives include:  1) Monitor signs and symptoms immediately after discharge from hospital environments and provide comprehensive, individualized education and follow up support; 2) Promote patient self-management, independence and adherence to prescribed treatments; and  3) Help identify early signs / symptoms of worsening conditions in a post acute environment. A further and equally important goal will be to reduce re-admission rates and ER utilization of patients with CHF.

MedApps is well positioned to support the Meridian out-patient program, as the health industry at large strives to improve out-patient care and monitoring, while reducing associated costs.  The MedApps System has been FDA-cleared to integrate with a variety of medical monitors to remotely transmit, store and report timely, accurate health information virtually anywhere.

You can find out more information on MedApps website

NHS Lothian ends ban on use of mobile phones by hospital staff.

Medics’ mobile phone ban ends

Published Date: 12 January 2010

A TOTAL ban on NHS Lothian staff using their mobile phones in hospitals has been lifted. Health bosses decided to revise the ruling given the importance of instant communication between workers to improve efficiency of care. There are still strict guidelines on when and where phones can be used.

Evening News (final edition) p.9

New website will offer online GP services to patients in Wales

Online GP services
Patients will be able to order their repeat prescriptions online

Patients in Wales will soon be able to book a GP appointment or order repeat prescriptions via an NHS website.
Funding of £1.7m has been announced for the bilingual My Health Online website by Health Minister Edwina Hart.
Website users will also be able to get advice and information to help them manage health conditions.
The British Medical Association said any development giving better access to information will be welcomed, but the system must be secure.
Once constructed the website My Health Online will link to the existing NHS Direct Wales website.
Ms Hart said: “The demand for online GP services is increasing and we recognise that providing accessible information is critical if we want to enable people to change their lifestyles and improve their health.
“The Welsh Assembly Government is also committed to improving access to health services for people living in rural communities. My Health Online will particularly save lengthy journeys to GP practices.
“The website will also help empower people to take responsibility for their own health through the completion of a health diary which can be shared with their GP.”

Click the link for more information about online GP services in Wales