Developments in the e-health, telehealth field

Last week, CARTES and IDentification (Paris, France), a conference focusing on digital security and smart technologies, released developments in the e-health and telehealth fields prior to its 2011 show in November.  According to CARTES and IDentification, one of the major developments is the use of smart security technologies in improving medical patient care.

According to the Smart Card Alliance, errors in patient identity have caused over 110,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals. The smart card now appears to be the solution for paperless processing of medical data while providing safeguards, which are imperative where the security and protection of personal data are concerned, according to CARTES and IDentification.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, signed in the United States in February 2009, invited all stakeholders in the health ecosystem to work towards the creation of a network for the collection and exchange of standardized medical data (Electronic Health Record) using certified technology capable of simultaneously ensuring the availability, sharing, security, accuracy and confidentiality of such data.

This legislative framework involves identity management techniques that have been widely tested in banking and various fields involving identity issues. These techniques must be able to handle the rights of all stakeholders (patients, doctors, nurses, specialists, pharmacists, etc.), keys and certificates, means of encryption and strong authentication (in some cases, biometric), says CARTES and IDentification.

The AMA (American Medical Association) has stressed the benefits offered by the use of a smart card that stores personal medical information (allergies, blood type, current treatment, etc.), especially in emergency situations. According to CARTES and IDEntification, the Secure ID Coalition, which campaigns in the United States for the generalization of personal health cards, says they "could be used over the next ten years to reduce fraud in health spending to the tune of around $370 billion."

According to CARTES and IDentification, several health smart cards have already emerged in the United States. Last March, LifeNexus launched a health card which also serves as a personal credit card. A similar concept, this time in the form of a bracelet containing a contactless chip (MasterCard PayPass) was issued by the U.S. Bank in July. The bracelet contains a unique number, providing access in emergencies to the bearer's personal medical data.

In Europe, Germany is preparing to launch a new generation of health cards next October (eGK Generation 1plus) designed in conjunction with insurance companies for online use. In France, the new CPS3 card for health professionals entered circulation earlier this year. This card is now in line with the European IAS ECC standard (Signature, Identification, Authentication) and is contactless.

These developments demonstrate the role played by cards in identifying patients and health professionals as well as allowing them to access online services, whose development is also being accelerated by the mobile Internet. According to In-Stat, the cloud computing market in the health field should exceed a billion dollars in 2013, driven by the explosion of mobility.

According to ABI Research, the market for connected portable medical equipment is expected to grow very steadily over the next 5 years (100 million units per year).

Qualcomm in China has launched a project to fight against cardiovascular disease with the use of smartphones connected to micro-electro-cardiogram sensors. Data are collected at a center where 30 specialists work round the clock to analyze the data in real time and intervene in support of local doctors where necessary, according to CARTES and IDentification.

According to Sierra Wireless, he market for M2M modules is still modest (some $9 million), but it should multiply by 10 over the next three years. With Positive ID, Sierra has developed secure modules to provide support for diabetics through monitoring levels of glucose in the blood.

Cinterion has developed a system capable of modulating in real-time the flow of air sent to people suffering from sleep apnoea. The company has also developed M2M modules with TZ Medical in order to remotely monitor problems of cardiac arrhythmia in real-time.

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