Excellence in Healthcare: an Orange perspective
Orange Healthcare has repeatedly innovated in a bid to modernize technologies, processes and business models in health. Here, we find out what it has been doing to push the envelope further still.
As we enter the second decade of the millennium, humankind faces immense challenges in all areas of society, from energy to climate change and food security. Near the top of that list is healthcare. The global population is set to hit seven billion people this year, and it takes a new kind of thinking to ensure that we provide decent healthcare for all of them.
Over the last couple of years, Orange Healthcare has been quietly innovating to help modernize the healthcare landscape. Orange e-health focuses on three primary areas as it works with industry professionals to modernize and refine healthcare services. These are: services to healthcare professionals, managing chronic diseases, and prevention and wellness.
The first area is where Orange has made the biggest advances during the past year. "The most salient fact, and certainly the thing that we're proudest of, is the contract that we've been awarded by the Greater Paris Regional Authority of Health," says Thierry Zylberg, head of the Orange Healthcare division. The project, awarded in the fall of 2010, involves digitizing all of the medical imaging in Paris. All medical health data will be stored in a cloud, ensuring a greater level of reliability, availability and security.
In pushing the boundaries of innovation, Orange Business Services also has to overcome the challenges of inspiring regulators with its ideas. It managed to get approval from the French Government to host medical data in the cloud, while guaranteeing privacy and security. "That's a key breakthrough in health professional services," Zylberg says.
The commitment of Orange Healthcare to excellence in helping healthcare service providers extends beyond France. In Poland, it launched a service suite for healthcare professionals, enabling them to administer online appointments via a web-based interface that included a mini-website for individual doctors. The system features multichannel communications, supporting users via SMS and email (including push-based email for supporting platforms such as RIM's BlackBerry). It even synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook's personal information manager.
managing chronic diseases and wellness
The second key area for Orange Healthcare is chronic disease remote management (CDRM). In Spain, the company has launched a remote management solution for chronic diseases. The system is being used to optimize medical appointments, while reducing emergency hospitalization of diabetics and obesity. It involves the centralized storage of patient records and their integration with hospital IT systems, which helps to drive efficiencies into the medical process.
The final area of focus is prevention and wellness. Preventative healthcare is more efficient and less expensive than dealing with health problems after they have arisen. Orange Healthcare is a firm believer that technology can help to maintain health and identify potential problems before they arise.
This approach becomes particularly important as the population begins to age. With the first baby boomers retiring this year, we are set for a major demographic shift in society that will have significant ramifications for healthcare.
"The big issue facing us is that the population is aging everywhere in the world. In Europe over the next 50 years, the number of people over 80 years old will triple, while those over 65 will double," explains Zylberg. "So all societies, especially those in the developed world, are facing a tsunami of seniors. There is no way to take care of them simply by building medical retirement homes, so we will have to deal with senior people in their own homes. That represents a great opportunity."
In France, remote mobile assistance is proving to be an effective means of supporting elderly and disabled customers. Orange partnered with Mondial Assistance to provide a dedicated, voice-centric handset designed purely for seniors. The easy-to-operate handset connects seniors to Mondial Assistance services with the push of a single button, providing them with free and unlimited 24/7 medical advice and support.
pushing boundaries in emerging markets
Beyond these core target areas, Orange is also pushing the boundaries in emerging markets. The challenges are different here, explains Zylberg. "In the European countries, we focus on trying to bring more efficiency into the existing healthcare system," he says. "Whereas, our activities in the emerging markets are really about providing access to healthcare."
One method of helping to connect the population in developing countries with healthcare is to focus on health and education. Orange can help address this simply by using its telecommunications expertise and network capacity in the geographies. For example, it is providing bulk SMS messages in Cameroon, which can be used for health education purposes.
In Mali, Orange has worked with local authorities to provide a weighing station for babies. Parents bring their babies to the weighing stations for measurement, which enables medical practitioners to monitor their growth and analyze any problems as quickly as possible. "This experiment, which was limited in scope and space, is now being extended with the health department in Mali," Zylberg says.
With technological innovation occurring on all fronts, Orange Healthcare is quick to acknowledge the need to complement IT expertise with business innovation. We face an unprecedented period of healthcare reform, as the private and public sectors find new ways to work together on financing and refining healthcare services.
Orange Healthcare is working closely with business partners to ensure the sustainability of advanced healthcare services. Zylberg emphasizes the need for new financing partnerships, most likely involving a shared deployment cost for mutual gain.
"There is a discussion to be had with the insurance companies, because they realize that full implementations of technology and services such as telemedicine and monitoring will provide them with efficiency gains," he explains.
Fewer healthcare incidents benefit both the patients and the insurance companies that pay for their treatment. "So, we are reimagining a business model in which the savings made by the systems are split between the payer and the technology provider."
Advances such as these are what brought France Telecom the Frost and Sullivan eHealth Differentiator award for 2010. They also helped win Orange the 2010 European M2M Telecom Services Market Penetration Leadership Award from Frost and Sullivan. What will 2011 bring?