Telefonica launches global e-Health unit for more efficient, patient-focused healthcare

Madrid, 13 June 2010.- Telefonica launched today its new Global e-health Unit, as well as its strategy for the healthcare sector, where it aims to become a benchmark and major player in the healthcare of the future through the creation of quality products and services based on information and communications technologies (ICTs), which will contribute towards making a new, sustainable and efficient healthcare model where the patient is the main focus for the entire system.

The launch, held in the company’s Madrid headquarters in Las Tablas, took place during the e-health I-Workshops, organised by Telefonica and was officially opened by Trinidad Jim‚nez, Spain’s Minister of Health, and the Chairman of Telefonica, C‚sar Alierta.

Telefonica is proposing to the healthcare sector the decentralisation of clinical processes, integrated service networks, and ubiquitous and remote access to these services, which will increase efficiency and modernise the sector. 

During his presentation, C‚sar Alierta explained that ‘this global unit has a cross-company character, and already has local units in Spain, Europe and Latin America, composed of professionals who define the strategy and planning of services and their industrialisation, operation and support. It aims to become a standard bearer in the areas of products, pilot projects and know-how.

Social services/healthcare sector background

The social services/healthcare sector is facing challenges that require investment and high quality services. Governments seek to guarantee the healthcare organisational and service model against a backdrop of rising health service and care costs, and greater life expectancy.

In 2010, 13.5% of the world’s population, 980 million people, will be over 65, of which 60% will suffer from chronic and degenerative illnesses. This situation, combined with the current shortfall of specialists in key medical assistance sectors, and the fact that these specialists must spend up between 30% and 50% of their time on administrative tasks instead of healthcare activities, compounded by the fallout from the economic crisis, are putting additional pressure on public healthcare budgets. Given this context, containing IT costs in the healthcare sector is key, and can be achieved through digital standards (interoperability) and using business intelligence in risk management and patient-centred projects.

Telemedicine and remote telecare, and greater network integration through ICTs represent the opportunity to optimise resources and budgets, improve productivity and establish an efficient cooperation system between health centres and professionals.  In this regard, Telefonica is currently participating in over 80 projects in the telemedicine and telecare segment in over nine countries.

Telefonica and Healthcare

In 2005, Telefonica was the first European company to create a R&D department aimed specifically at electronic health and technology-based healthcare: the Living Lab in Granada. With the launching of the Global e-health Unit, the company has been able to pool its resources and knowledge in this field to spearhead the development of ICTs for social services and healthcare, providing innovative solutions and developing new high-potential services.

These new products and services are based on converging communications (fixed + wireless + information technologies), managing web services from its Managed Data Centres with point-to-point coverage and a pay-per-use policy, a model that provides economies of scale to extend applications with a minimum outlay on technology.

Telefonica has a large number of technological partners and both local and global alliances to ensure the quality of its products in the e-health value chain (Intel, Cisco). It is also a member of the Continua Health Alliance, the United Nations Office for Partnerships’ Digital Health Initiative, the European Commission and the World Health Organization, all proponents of developing management tools, telemedicine and telecare based on ICTs to reduce healthcare costs, ensure the global reach of social services and healthcare and improve quality.

Over the course of the workshops, which included presentations from luminaries such as doctors Alejandro Jadad, founder of the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, and Albert Jovell, chairman of the Spanish Patients’ Forum , Telefonica demonstrated the main telemedicine and telecare services it had developed in conjunction with Cisco and Intel and which are already being used in numerous hospitals and healthcare centres in several autonomous regions.