Telehealth Technology to Save the EU $135 Billion by 2017

As the cost of providing healthcare spirals out of control, people are gradually starting to realise that the current model of health care is not sustainable. More people and fewer resources combined with some treatments actually losing their effectiveness are causing serious problems. The global health care bill currently sits at $6.5 trillion per year. The key to cutting those costs is getting people to take control of their own healthcare using mobile telehealth solutions.

What is Telehealth?

The concept behind telehealth is - put simply – where people receive medical help remotely. Telehealth is a form of telecommuting by which you communicate remotely with a doctor. Irrespective of the type of remote device you are using, be it a cellphone or HD camera, the process remains the same; you are getting medical help remotely.

Business Benefits

The costs are having a huge effect on companies as employees take an increasing number of sick days. The EU could save itself $135 billion by 2017 if so called telehealth solutions were implemented.

The efficiency gain would be extremely high; many unnecessary visits to your local Doctor would be a thing of the past. Without a significant upgrade in technology, roughly 24 million more patients could be treated in the EU with the same doctors and facilities that are already available.

Telehealth mobile solutions could even allow an extra 18 million people to extend their working lives who are either suffering from or at risk of suffering from a chronic illness. That would contribute a massive 93 billion euros extra a year to the EU’s economic output.

What that could mean for businesses is amazing. It is now possible for workers to get diagnosed with certain problems while still in their office building. Your company could even purchase something like the Health Spot Self Contained Teleconsulting Booths. These booths come with high definition cameras and certain instruments such as blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes so that minor problems can be diagnosed with ease. The booths can even generate and send prescriptions electronically to a pharmacy.

It’s Not Rocket Science

However, this huge kind of investment may not be necessary as using equipment that is already available in many offices is an option. It is possible to carry out many of the same functions as the health spot booth with common teleconferencing equipment.

Although originally designed to look after the needs to prison inmates, the UK teleconferencing solution became such a success that they decided to use it for care homes. The use of teleconferencing equipment by chronically ill patients in care homes has led to a 45 % reduction in hospital admissions from the care homes.

Another option being considered is called Teki. It is a solution being trialled - successfully - in Spain’s Basque region. Teki uses the Xbox gaming machine to monitor chronically ill people. Either by using specialist diagnostic gloves or the Kinect motion tracking device, it has saved the health care services more than £33 million. Accenture, the company who helped develop the system estimate that it could save the NHS £7 billion per year.

Every employer wants to reduce the number of sick days his employees take. If you have a room in your office which is just for teleconferencing with a doctor you could seriously reduce unnecessary trips to the doctor. It would also have many additional benefits for lots employees as they would no longer have to take their lunch break or a whole sick day to get a prescription for a sore throat.

Do you think that this is a good idea for reducing costs? Or do you think that this is just a good idea to get people working even harder than they already are? Your thoughts and comments below please…