Telemedicine and Health-related Services

Stethoscope and tablet ; Source: istock.com/alexey_boldin + PeopleImages
© istock.com/alexey_boldin + PeopleImages

Telemedicine is one of several segments of the eHealth market.

eHealth refers to specific concepts, ways of thinking, approaches and obligations with respect to networked and global thinking for the purposes of improving health care by using information and communications technology (ICT). The goals are to improve interaction between patients and heath care service providers, ensure speedy and above all secure transmission of data, and better the processing and storage of large amounts of data, as well as improve cost efficiency. Key topics and particularly innovative subdivisions include electronic patient records, telemonitoring, expert systems, ambient assisted living, and virtual reality in medicine.

Telemedicine is a particularly interesting segment of the eHealth market, given - above all - its potential for growth. Telemedicine defines diagnostics and therapy measures that make use of telecommunications to bridge distance and time intervals between doctors and patients or between consulting doctors. The applications go beyond the saving and processing of data. They include, for instance, testing systems for the secure transfer of radiological images (teleradiology) and electronic monitoring of the state of patients' health.

Other examples are medical care services supplied independently of where the service providers, patients and records of care or medical devices are located.

  • Telemedicine: the transfer of medical imaging between centers of medical care for the purposes of remote diagnostics
  • Home-monitoring: providing health care in the patient's home (e.g. elderly patients, diabetics), "home care"
  • Teleconsultation: remote access to knowledge or experience of a specialist (e.g. teleradiology)
  • Remote diagnostics: a doctor provides a diagnosis for a patient in a different location (e.g. telecardiology)
  • Telemonitoring: remote monitoring of a patient that is not in a hospital (e.g. fetal monitoring)
  • Remote support: using remote monitoring data to examine patients in a different location (e.g. diabetics)
  • Distance learning: educating patients and personnel in remote locations

Health-related services covers a wide range of different products: From construction of hospitals, to training of skilled medical personnel and beyond to hospital management and supply. Health-related services subsume auxiliary services for the health care industry.

The German health care industry is in a position to assist foreign health care systems in their efforts to supply their own citizens and visitors with the highest level of integrated support and care services. At the same time, the German health care industry can tailor health care modules to suit the geographic, social and economic needs in any type of environment (urban, rural).

Germany possesses vast know-how in hospital construction and management, the education of health care workers, and the provision of turnkey projects. It is well positioned to export these services all over the world.

Market development

In recent years, numerous clinical studies of telemedicine have been published that clearly demonstrate telemedicine provides significant improvement in quality of life. Telemedical care - as a supplement to proper ambulatory care - can improve the quality of life, and in some cases, even clearly increase life expectancy of high risk patients with chronic cardiac insufficiency. These studies, in addition to others, allow the conclusion that telemedicine is making a significant contribution to the advance of cardiology.

Recent health care reforms have led to an increasing scarcity of financial resources in the hospital sector. This trend will continue to affect all sectors of health care. The increasing size of the elderly population and the growing number of persons with chronic diseases will pose new challenges for hospitals.

Enhancing efficiency in all hospitals is therefore one of the most important objectives in ensuring universal access to hospital facilities and maintaining high-quality care.

Export highlights

A German University Hospital advises the Yemeni government in the building and operation of a new, 400-bed hospital.

A German company exported a complete surgical and diagnostic clinic and a laboratory - including medical technology - to Nigeria and also trained staff on site.