Orange Healthcare CEO Thierry Zylberberg discusses the latest m-health trends.
Eurocomms.com: How would you define the business environment for m-health services in Europe in 2014?
We are entering an exciting phase. M-health services are coming of age and whilst there are still many hurdles to overcome such as clarity on regulation, the business environment is maturing by the day. The real drivers of this are “self” and “remote” chronic disease monitoring services.
Additionally, the opportunities for m-health services are rapidly expanding; they are well positioned, for example, to gather data.
Have all the stakeholders found a business model that works and what is the role of a telco in this?
We cannot speak for other stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem but as an operator Orange has found success in the healthcare business in a variety of areas.
A key role for telcos is the transfer, storage and management of sensitive medical data, ensuring interoperability and integration of the whole system.
Orange is playing a critical role in ensuring the secure transfer of this information between doctors’ offices, hospitals and independent medical practitioners, improving co-ordination and efficiency between these players. Cloud computing is a cornerstone of this role and we will leverage our expertise in this area to deliver this service.
Another role that telcos like Orange can play in healthcare is the provision of remote monitoring and management services for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnoea. This is one of the key areas where new business models are taking off.
Orange Healthcare’s partnership with Sorin, which provides a defibrillator device to regulate the heart, also demonstrates well the new business models open to operators. The Smartview remote monitoring solution now allows healthcare providers to access valuable cardiac data and receive messages from Sorin’s implantable device, while the patient is at home. This avoids hospital appointments and allows regular follow-up with the patient.
A GSMA study of 700 m-health services found that less than 1 percent are significantly impacting health outcomes. How would you defend this disappointing statistic?
It’s important to make a distinction between consumer wellness services and apps, of which there are many, and which have limited impact on healthcare systems, and clinical applications and services which are very much business-to-business services.
However, it is fair to say that much of the work to date has been about proving the benefit of m-health services in existing healthcare systems in economic and social terms. Healthcare systems are national and therefore dramatically different from market to market.
Each national healthcare system has its own complex system and change, therefore, is slow.
With increasing life expectancy and ensuing ageing population and the rising cost of treating chronic diseases, there is a real need to revolutionise existing healthcare systems – and m-health has a key role to play, with operators at the heart of that. The GSMA and PWC published research in 2013 showing that m-health could save nearly €100 million in European healthcare costs by 2017 but this could be the tip of the iceberg.
Which m-health service are you most excited about this year and why?
The role of medical data and the need for tailored solutions to manage this big data in a secure fashion will be particularly interesting going forward.
We are also excited about our Connected Health Center (CHC). The CHC is a secure data exchange and aggregation platform developed by Orange for hosting telemedicine services. These services can be developed in partnership with medical equipment manufacturers to transmit clinical information about the patient from the communicating device to the CHC - information that can then be consulted at any time and in full security by the health professional.
What remains the biggest challenge to Orange Healthcare’s success in your view?
The biggest challenge is not a problem of technology, but of expanding new business models across various regulatory and structural barriers, in an ecosystem where interoperability and scalability are key.
The other challenge is to broaden existing business models in the business-to-business sector so that consumers at large are truly empowered to benefit from these exciting services.