Wednesday, April 13, 2011

World of Mobile Health

Korea Telecom pilots mobile-enabled diabetes management

Like many parts of the world, South Korea is facing an aging population and a rise in medical care costs. Looking for ways to save money while taking care of its increasing patient rolls, the country is turning to mobile health as a way to manage chronic illness. Qualcomm, the Gyeonggi Province of Korea, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and Korea Telecom (KT) announced today that they are partnering on a project called Self Quality Care. The project will use 3G applications and services to provide patients and care providers with health information and reminders to manage chronic disease and promote healthier lifestyles.

During the project, KT will gather data from diabetic patients’ Ubcare glucose meter measurements and transmit them to its u-Health Platform using the 3G Health Home Gateway. Additionally, the company will provide web service solutions and smartphone applications that will enable patients and health workers to better manage diabetes. The glucose meter provider, Ubcare, will work with KT on creating software that will communicate with hospital medical record databases and the u-Health Platform using Internet and mobile services.

“In this project, KT plans to link devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs and IPTV devices with medical treatment systems in order to develop a service that will improve the management of chronic diseases and encourage a healthier lifestyle,” said Lee Suk-chae, chief executive officer of Korea Telecom in the release. “The project also aims to maximize the effects of treatment and KT will continue to provide the u-Health service to those areas of medical management that need to be improved.”

The program is part of Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative, a program that brings wireless technology to underserved communities around the world. The company has been working in South Korea on various mobile health projects over the last couple years–partly because South Korea was one of the first countries to deploy 3G nationwide. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, a non-profit, government funded organization, will oversee the implementation and evaluation of the project.

This pilot is reminiscent of a similar diabetes management program Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative helped pull together in Tijuana, Mexico.

While Telcare’s 3G-enabled glucose meter is not being used in this pilot, Qualcomm has been very supportive of Telcare’s meter, which is not yet FDA cleared in the US.

“Ten years from now coupling wireless technology to the medical monitoring devices, of today will be routine,” Telcare CEO Dr Jonathan Javitt stated in a Qualcomm blog post earlier this year. “The interesting question is what can we do next? How long is it going to be before we have implants that measure sugar and transmit the results to a central monitoring facility while also controlling medication delivery and before we have devices that can detect dangerous heart rhythms and dispense lifesaving drugs on the spot?”

Javitt also estimated that “if you can connect doctors and patients electronically around the care of diabetes, you can lower blood sugar enough to reduce complications from diabetes by 37 percent.”

For more, read the release.

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