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ESA completes study for telemedicine via satellite

22 Jun 2006

The results of the ESA supported study 'Market and Regulatory Study for telemedicine via satellite' have been reported. The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the market potential in Europe and Canada for telemedicine services based on satellite communication technologies as well as insight into the legal and regulatory barriers.
The study is the work of Eutelsat SA from France and its partners Avienda Limited in the United Kingdom, D'Appolonia SpA from Italy and Telemedicine Technologies SA of France.

The following issues have been addressed:

  • Identification of the main domains where satellite communications can bring added-value to telemedicine services;
  • Assessment of the market size and of the opportunities for existing and potential telemedicine services using satellite communications;
  • Competitiveness of satellite solutions in comparison to others;
  • Modelling of end-to-end telemedicine services value chains by identification of the main actors and organisational structure of the services;
  • Assessment of regulatory issues and potential barriers to telemedicine services implementation.

The need to support such a study became clear after the symposium on 'Telemedicine via Satellite in the Information Society', which was held in May 2003 (see related links at the top-right of this page). The symposium made it clear that telemedicine represents a good opportunity to extend medical services and health care to remote and rural areas or to any place where there is a need. It enables specialists to benefit from consultation with colleagues worldwide. Satellite operators too will benefit, when this market opportunity opens for satcom applications.

Results of the study
The study revealed that although the technology is now quite advanced, telemedicine is still not widely used and that barriers still exist to its widespread diffusion. The greatest number of services and telemedicine programs have been found in USA and Canada, rather than in Europe.

Although a wide range of applications and products are available, only a few reach a commercialisation or operational phase. Telemedicine has, however, proven its value in support of the delivery of tele-radiology, tele-pathology, general medical diagnosis, remote consultations, triage decision-making and emergency evaluations. It has also been used as an effective support for pre-transfer or admission coordination, follow-up medical care, post-operative appointments and medication checks.

One of main conclusions that emerged is that the cost of including telemedicine via satellite is relatively low when compared to the overall cost of implementing medical services. This contradicts the previous assumption that the high cost of telemedicine via satellite is the main obstacle to its adoption.

In fact, the study revealed that the main obstacle to expanded use of telemedicine is that although many product providers exist, there remains a general lack of end-to-end services.

Major industry players and key opinion leaders interviewed for this study are very optimistic about the future of telemedicine in Europe and in Canada. Telemedicine has great prospects and is ready to develop to its full potential.

To view a copy of the ESA supported study "Market and Regulatory Study for telemedicine via satellite" click under documentation at the right of this page.

Last Update: 22 Jun 2006
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