Last year Jon Hoeksma at eHealth Insider reported on how Orange Austria and Alcatel-Lucent had begun trialling the Sasktel LifeStat Healthcare Diary Application together with the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Österreich (Workers Samaritan Federation Austria) charity, and more than anything the lack of detail got me interested in keeping an eye on this one…
> The trial is a pilot of a “mobile e-health solution” for “monitoring blood sugar levels and blood pressure”
> It involves the “Alcatel-Lucent TeleHealth Manager solution” – which is “an off the shelf e-health platform”
With some of the most confusing descriptive terms (eg. “The TeleHealth Manager is a tele-monitoring solution that combines intelligent end devices with the infrastructure required to provide remote monitoring and care. The equipment is claimed to be very easy to operate”) I’m thinking something was lost in translation as this appears to be a simple mobile health diary which can securely upload info into the care providers EHR and automatically sends email/SMS alerts if data inputs are missed or readings fall outside a predefined range.
Fast forward 12 months and we noticed an easy to miss press release on the Trading Markets Website revealing how the service has been put through its paces in a “12 month field test with 42 patients” and has now gone live branded as the “healthe health package” and available across Orange Austria’s 93 retail stores. They’ve even published pricing details:
> Cost is “€10 per month on top of any Orange Tariff” + €2 per month for the automated email/SMS notification feature
> Inclusive Data Costs
> “Use of the medical platform plus access for up to five users”
Whilst the inclusive data costs might be a welcome development for our American mHealth colleagues, it’s notable that it’s not inclusive of visits to the data incurred by visits to the portal (http://ehealth.samariterbund.net – link not working), nor is it available for prepay subscribers and most EU contract subscriptions already offer a basic mobile data allowance eg. at Austria Orange the data transfer costs are so reasonable that it would only add an additional 25c per month to the customers bill (*as long as they didn’t use more than 1 MB or roam abroad while running the service).
Checking out the Orange Austria website and it’s still not obvious how the healthcare provider is involved in the process as the “Health System” seems to refer to a patient owned/managed portal (to which they invite their “health workers” – up to 5). Not only does this leave me wondering if healthcare workers are going to be content to use this patient owned/operated portal but it’s confusing because payment for the medical devices (€39 for the PolyTel Bluetooth Blood Glucose Monitor accessory and €99 for the AandD Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor), mobile diary application (€120 per year) and Orange contract (at least another €120 per year) is being made by the patient despite the potential savings this could offer a care provider if they included it within their EHR system. All the same the video demonstration is very interesting (and well worth a visit):
Here’s a little wish list of things I would have liked to have seen…
> A Bluetooth enabled Blood Glucose Monitor (instead of the LifeScan OneTouch 2) so that the Polytel Accessory is redundant
> UI improvements – this application was built for a pre-touch UI and doesn’t utilise the size/touch capabilities of this Nokia eg bigger text, easier touch input etc
> The care provider experience eg. even a basic update on the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Österreich website
> Manual data entry potential (so that patients aren’t reliant on Bluetooth enabled monitoring equipment)
When we started out developing 3G Doctor we really didn’t think it would take until 2010 for an European Mobile Operator to be marketing/selling medical devices… it’s at last happened and we hope you’ll join us in sending a big congratulations to the team at Orange Health for being the first!