First ‘pharmacovigilance’ center launched in India

Accenture and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company have together launched the pharmaceutical industry’s first ‘pharmacovigilance’ center, in Chennai, India, to monitor safety of data collected on medicines.

Pharmacovigilance entails the capture, assessment and reporting of potential side effects on medicines. The new center will undertake the processing and coding of adverse event data and the generation of regulatory periodic and aggregate reports on safety as well as physician medical review of adverse events.

The opening of the center, marks the first time a collaboration for ‘end-to-end’ safety case processing has been established. The center promises seamless handling of data and reports between Accenture and Bristol-Myers Squibb while not compromising patient safety.

The pharmacovigilance center, to be operated by more than 140 Accenture employees, is part of Accenture’s Life Sciences Centers of Excellence in Bangalore and Chennai that Bristol-Myers Squibb already utilizes.

SRIT forms a Joint Venture HealthCare ICT Company in China

Sobha Renaissance Information Technology (SRIT), a Bangalore based global software products and solutions provider, recently announced the setting up of a joint venture (JV) company in China called Sunpa Sobha Software (China) Ltd with ‘Yunnan Sunpa Image Tel Tech Co. Ltd (Sunpa)’ as its JV partner. Headquartered in Kunming, Sunpa Sobha Software (China) Ltd. will have operating branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
This is SRIT’s first JV foray into the Chinese Market and possibly the first JV between the two countries in the realm of Healthcare ICT (Information & Communications Technology).

Sunpa is a world-class telemedicine ‘Products, Solutions and Services’ company that develops, integrates and produces a series of patented equipments & peripherals for Telemedicine, PACS and Tele-education. They ute key projects under the Chinese Government’s National Hi-tech Development Program, and are recipients of their Central Government’s second best award among the top-100 state-level prize-winning hi-tech projects.

Dr. Madhu Nambiar, Founder, MD & CEO SRIT has reportedly said that although the initial capitalization of the joint-venture is US$ 1 million, the joint-venture estimates increase of capitalization to US$20million in the next couple of years. .

Norwest will venture beyond IT to healthcare and retail in India

Kurt L Betcher, administrative partner and chief financial officer of Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), and his colleague and general partner Robert B Abbott were recently in India.

Betcher’s focus was on the logistics of setting up and running an office in India, while Abbott, was looking for investment opportunities in the country, beyond the realm of technology that NVP had so far restricted itself to.

Though the Palo Alto-based company’s presence has been felt in India since late 2003, with frequent visits and the occasional investment made by managing partner Promod Haque and general partner Vab Goel, the latest visit is significant. It indicates the continued commitment of VC firms like NVP to India and the opportunities they see in the country.

After pursuing only technology and technology-related companies till now (NVP has invested in five Indian companies and in 22 companies that have an India linkage), the venture capital firm now feels that healthcare and retail are ripe to explore..

Battle Between Google and Microsoft Could Trigger Revolution in Healthcare

Wireless Healthcare, an independent UK based analysts specialising in the application of mobile and wireless technology in the healthcare sector, says that Google and Microsoft, knowing that a large number of Internet searches are health related, are actively attempting to build a presence in the healthcare sector.

According to them, informed patients who have ‘googled’ their symptoms could gain access to their genetic profile and manage their health using an online patient record.

Wireless Healthcare believes that Google’s recent investment in the genetic profiling company 23andMe and Microsoft’s purchase of the intelligent medical search company Medstory could lead to the emergence of services that are highly disruptive within the healthcare market.

They see it as the emergence of a new ehealth model that challenges some of the assumptions made by existing online healthcare providers and medical device manufacturers.

Telehealth market to witness surge

New research by Datamonitor says, drive to cut costs while improving medical care is set to drive the worth of the telehealth market to $8 billion (�4 billion) by 2012, with an annual growth rate of 56 per cent, compared to 9.9 per cent for the whole clinical market.

Telehealth systems deliver medical services via digital networks, allowing patients to be advised or treated at home or elsewhere. Current procedures include the domestic monitoring of blood sugar levels among diabetics and remote consultations conducted via video conferencing.

Such telehealth technologies are especially useful in rural areas, but can also help urban clinics keep tabs on patients and encourage them to come in for checkups more frequently.

Advantages of remote health monitoring will outweigh financial hurdles. The global market for remote access health systems will be worth more than $8bn (�3.97bn) by 2012, according to analyst Datamonitor.

Datamonitor predicts a five-year compound annual growth rate of 56 per cent compared with 9.9 per cent in the clinical market. The ageing population and a shortage of healthcare services will boost demand for telehealth networks.

NHS (UK) ICT spend to hit �2.9bn

The total spend on Information and Communications Technology in the NHS is set to hit �2.9bn in 2007/8 according to figures in a new report on NHS investment for the King’s Fund.

Actual ICT spending in England is estimated to have increased from �1bn in 2002/3 to �2.3bn in 2005/6. In 2006/7, the planned increase in ICT spending is set to rise by 25 per cent to just under �2.9bn.

The King’s Fund report, says that actual spending on ICT in the NHS was slower to pick up than originally envisaged, but has since exceeded the recommendations made five years ago.

The NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is identified as a major recipient of this additional investment, but the report notes that up to the end of March 2006, actual expenditure on the contracts let in 2003 and 2004 was lower than planned.

HRSA grant to fund nursing IT programs in US

The National League for Nursing and three institutions of higher education recently received a $1.5 million grant to fund a five-year Health Information Technologies Scholars Project to integrate technology into academic and clinical practice.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration’s Division of Nursing awarded the grant, to the School of Nursing at the University of Kansas.

The ultimate goal of this project is to improve the future workforce by providing them with the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitude to offer safe, quality, and efficient healthcare through the use of technologies.

Other participating schools are the University of Colorado at Denver and the Health Sciences Center at Indiana University in Bloomington.

NLN will also create a private e-Community to be used as a central database for documents related to the project, and to facilitate communication among the participating faculty and administrations at the three schools of nursing.

Infineon, sole security chip supplier for largest patient healthcare card project in US

Siemens, and two New York hospitals, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Elmhurst Hospital Center have formed a health smart card alliance to deploy up to 1.2 million Patient Health Smart Cards to link as many as 45 affiliated and related medical facilities in the New York metro area. The patient health smart card trial began in late 2006 and is scheduled to end in 2007. In 2008, the health smart card alliance expects to issue approximately 500,000 smart cards which integrate a highly secure Infineon microcontroller.

The patient health smart cards are issued by the affiliated and related medical facilities with the patient’s printed photo. To use the card, the patient inserts the card into a card reader and enters a private PIN number to unlock the data on the card’s security crypto-controller.

Today, Infineon provides its secure microcontroller chips to the world’s largest national patient cards, health insurance cards and social security cards, including Italy, Taiwan, Slovenia, Spain, India, Poland, Great Britain, and Germany.

Ekahau and VeriChip collaborate on RFID security

Hospitals across the world using Ekahau’s Wi-Fi enabled real time tracking solutions (RLTS) will benefit from tighter system security after the Finland-based company partnered with VeriChip.

As part of the agreement, Ekahau will work alongside Xmark, a VeriChip subsidiary which specialises in RFID-based healthcare security systems. Specifically, the companies will collaborate on providing solutions around asset tracking,infant protection, patient safety and theft prevention in the healthcare industry.

Solutions such as wander prevention, perimeter security and campus to bed-level tracking of assets are initial areas of focus for the collaboration.

The two companies are also co-operating on an integrated solution that combines RFID and Wi-Fi technologies to suit the particular needs of individual hospitals. One of the first hospitals to benefit from the partnership will be the Herentals Hospital in Belgium which uses Ekahau’s RTLS to track patients through its operating room complex.

Precision tracking of patients through the operating theatre will enable more efficient throughput and better use of existing resources, which is essential to the running of any modern hospital.

Tenders to open in Oct for Rs1,500 cr AIIMS-like hospitals in six cities

A Rs1,500 crore project, the first major government investment for healthcare will kick off in the first week of October with the opening of architecture and design tenders for six hospital projects. It is to be led by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, to set up over a dozen multi-speciality hospitals and medical education institutions across the country, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

The medical institutions – being modelled on New Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) – at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh costing Rs1,500 crore are expected to be completed in 2009.

The proposed institutes will be equipped to handle multiple diseases and disorders with 800 hospital beds along with intensive care units and trauma care centres. They will have medical colleges with annual intake of 100 students and will also offer doctoral courses.

The following phases of the National Rural Health Mission, which include upgradation of seven medical institutions in six other states, and setting up of super-speciality medical institutions and research centres in another five states through the public-private partnership model, are also being finalised.

The emphasis on health care infrastructure under the five-year, Rs40,000 crore NRHM of the government comes in the wake of strong criticism from non-governmental organizations and national healthcare action groups. As also with private players such as Fortis Healthcare Ltd, Max Helathcare Ltd, Hinduja Group, Apollo Hospitals Ltd, and Wockhardt Hospitals Ltd, among others, have earmarked between Rs10,000 crore and Rs15,000 crore for new hospitals and expansion of existing ones.

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Related October 2007