September 2007


Ireland to invest Euro 500million in e-health


As part of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013 the Irish Government plans to invest nearly 500million Euro in deploying ICT facilities and capacity building in public health systems over the next seven years, at the rate of 70million Euro per year.

The six-year investment plan is intended to provide the funding to deliver Ireland’s National Health Information Strategy. ICT developments in the health service will be targeted at improving patient-centric systems in our hospitals and community settings. This initiative will be directed at implementing systems that improve  operational processes in public health  services by supporting healthcare professionals, while capturing information, which is necessary to ensure proper planning for future. Some of the areas which will be given support includes chronic disease management (for example diabetic care), emergency departments, medication management and health surveillance. The Irish Department of Health and Children said that they would be looking at investing in national ICT infrastructure to support health professionals working in a variety of settings. The Department also recognises ICT infrastructure as the foundation for provision of modern information systems within the health service that will help to enhance patient care.

In addition to this, ICT funds will also be used for development and improvement of support systems which are required to provide information for planning and management purposes in health services.


University of Queensland develops telehealth robot

University of Queensland’s Centre for Online Health – a world leader in telemedicine research is helping Queensland doctors conquer the tyranny of distance and improve delivery of specialist medical care. The university has developed a wireless robot- Ekka, which can be wheeled to the bedside of sick children for video-link consultations with Brisbane specialists, reducing the need for families to travel to the city for specialist care.

The Ekka robot is one of four robots that will be commissioned over the next three years, thanks to a $335,000 grant provided by mining company Xstrata (Community Partnership Program), through the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. The project is an extension of the telepaediatric research led by the Centre for Online Health, in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Rhapsody integration engine expands NHS Trust connectivity

Orion Health Limited, a leading provider of integration and clinical workflow technology to the health sector, has recently announced that Rhapsody Integration Engine continues to be adopted at a rapid rate by NHS Trusts in England, answering the need to link together internal hospital systems as well as interface to systems deployed under NHS Connecting for Health.

In the past three months, Rhapsody has been deployed by three acute NHS Trusts representing altogether 7 hospital sites, 11,300 staff and more than one million patients.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust have both adopted Rhapsody as a Trust Integration Engine. In addition, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust has recently completed deployment of Rhapsody to manage integration to their LSP supplied systems.

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust has implemented Rhapsody to provide inter-system messaging across critical clinical systems. Rhapsody is currently processing 6,500 PAS messages daily in Northampton.

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust (RJAH) is using Rhapsody to transfer radiology reports from their newly implemented Radiology Information System (RIS) to local GPs and into the Trust’s Graphnet Electronic Patient Record.

MediSys helps identify public health threats through intelligent web search system

 The European Commission has developed a medical intelligence system – ‘MediSys’, that constantly collects and sorts information from more than 1000 news and 120 public health websites for detecting early signs of epidemics, disease outbreak or industrial hazards.

Complementing traditional approaches, MediSys will provide health authorities with real-time knowledge for helping to identify such incidents at the earliest possible instance and react in a timely manner. It can also provide invaluable information to authorities tackling incidents such as bio-terrorism attack. Using pre-defined keywords and combinations, MediSys crawls through the web and sorts information into three primary categories: “Diseases”, “Bio- errorism”, and “Other Threats”. Articles or “hits” are then classified in more precise categories such as “AIDS-HIV”, “Respiratory infections”, “Avian flu”, “Legionella”, “Anthrax” or “Nuclear safety”. Statistics are stored on the filtered categories and “breaking news” is detected in a given category. Based on the level of new articles retrieved and the detected keywords, an automatic alert can then be sent by e-mail and SMS to decision-makers who are on permanent standby. The system proved to be very fruitful during the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in UK. MediSys detected a sudden jump in news reports and automatically sent email and SMS alerts to Public Health officials across Europe for emergency preparations and action.

Nepal wireless networking project wins ‘Asian Nobel Prize’ – telemedicine along with other  rural services gets a fillip

Mahabir PunImelda Abano – a Nepali teacher has been honoured with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as the Asian Nobel Prize, in recognition of his innovative application of wireless computer technology in Nepal. He received the 2007 Award for Community Leadership and a US$50,000 prize along with six other awardees in Manila, Philippines.

The project meets the communication needs of a remote hilly area in Nepal, which is seven hours climb to the nearest road and deprived of any telephone connection. Under this project, a few villagers and a team of international volunteers initially powered several computers with small hydro-generators in a nearby stream, and thereafter linking them wirelessly to the Internet with a series of television dish antennas and mountaintop relay stations, using the nearest telephone connection in the town of Pokhara – a two-day trip away.

The project has so far provided 14 rural villages with access to services like telemedicine, distance learning, e-marketing of local products and telephone services.

UAE government announces new federal health strategy and modernisation program

The Ministry of Health, UAE has announced 35 initiatives in public healthcare to be implemented in the next three years. The ministry is seeking to become the regulator of healthcare services under the new health strategy for 2008 to 2010, which includes unifying healthcare policies and offering more medical specialties.

The plan aims to ensure medical services to all UAE nationals and residents, promote best international practices, enhance preventive medicine to combat the spread of epidemics and infectious diseases, increase the community’s awareness of services and how to benefit from them.

The initiatives include building an electronic network connecting hospitals and healthcare centres in the UAE, building a medical archiving system and national health database in association with the UAE e-Government, and developing a comprehensive training programme for health staff.

The ministry’s ultimate objective is to lay the foundation for sustainable development within the healthcare sector, which follows international best practices. Public hospitals are expected to become self-managing by 2010 with operational and financial independence.

New York Governor launches comprehensive health information technology program

In order to advance patient-centered care and enable improvements in health care quality, affordability and outcomes for each person, family and business in New York, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s recently  announced the launch a comprehensive health information technology program.

An initial $106 million will be invested in the health care community during 2007-2008 to support the implementation of health IT tools to allow portability of patients’ medical records and new tools to assess and target improvements in health care quality.

The Office of Health Information Technology Trans-formation has been charged with coordinating health IT programs and policies across the public and private health care sectors. These programs and policies will establish the health IT infrastructure and capacity to support clinicians in quality-based reimbursement programs and new models of care delivery.


INDRANI GUPTA, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi  MAYUR TRIVEDI, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi SUBODH KANDAMUTHAN, Institute of Health Systems, Hyderabad

About the Book

The effectiveness of a new health technology is judged by both its accessibility and also the extent to which it has been adopted in a particular country. With the possibility of an AIDS vaccine in the near future, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has emphasised the need for countries to prepare well in advance for its smooth access and adoption. Reiterating IAVI`s appeal, this book ably captures the course India needs to take for the successful adoption and implementation of the AIDS vaccine in India.

The first of its kind, this book examines the adoption of four health technologies in IndiaHepatitis B, No Scalpel Vasectomy, Voluntary Counselling and Testing and Antiretroviral Treatment. Using a set of parameters, the authors not only bring to light the various dimensions, strengths and weaknesses of adoption of health technologies in India, but also how and where more attention needs to be paid with regard to the adoption of the AIDS vaccine.

Publisher: SAGE Publications
Pages: 236 pages
Price: Rs 295
ISSN No.: (978-0-7619-3590-2) .

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