• Preview Highlights Trends at Medica

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Preview Highlights Trends at Medica

Oct 29 2008

Six weeks before MEDICA 2008 begins in Düsseldorf (19th to 22nd November) for 4,200 exhibitors from 65 nations, this MEDICA PreView highlights some of the following emerging trends that will be seen at the global trade fair.

One top theme is the rapidly progressing networking process of agents in the health care system in the field of medical IT. For a long time, Germany has been awaiting the introduction of the electronic health card (eGK for short) for all those covered by health insurance. The card will now shortly be issued though initially only with very limited functional scope. Until now those relevant representatives from the medical profession, politics, sickness funds and pharmacists involved in the project were unable to come to an agreement on the central storage of patient data realised thanks to the "access key" eGK. Nevertheless, the industry has already demonstrated the card’s technical potential in terms of efficient control of treatment procedures. As part of MEDICA 2008, numerous firms from the IT sector will be showcasing their current solutions for the configuration of electronic patient files. Many projects now already demonstrate the successful intersectoral collaboration of clinics with referring physicians by means of access to data from electronic patient files.

Even though large software companies in the US have already come up with initial solution approaches to health cards that patients can use and update themselves via the Internet, offerings of this kind will not be established, at least in Germany, so quickly. This is the view of Professor Dr. Frank Ückert from Münster University Clinic. "The Web 2.0 idea in terms of doctor-patient interaction is still in its early days here. And until now many patients also do not see any concrete benefits for themselves arising from their own configuration of the health card. Obviously the picture looks very different in terms of the communication between professional health service suppliers," says Ückert referring to electronic patient files already in use in clinic networks. During MEDICA 2008 he will provide an overview of the activities in the field of Web 2.0 in medicine as part of the telemedicine forum MEDICA MEDIA.

Telemedicine Promotes Patient Involvement
A special focus at MEDICA 2008 are new applications of the so-called "Health Manager", a measuring and monitoring system for personal preventive health care. This helps patients without any special technical or medical knowledge measure different physical parameters (blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate variability, body fat levels) and thereby assess long-term risks for particular conditions. Once captured the data (e.g. a blood pressure or blood sugar measurement) is first stored on the relevant measuring equipment and later transmitted automatically via a radio signal onto the patient`s PC or handheld. Here the installed software evaluates the data and conveys to the patient recommendations on how to proceed. New here is that the data is also transmitted via a mobile telephone or broadband connection to the treating physician and integrated into the "LifeSensor" type electronic patient file used by numerous health care providers. Another component of the "Health Manager" platform is the "Stress-Pilot". This involves an ear-clip measuring pulse rate plus training software. Combined application thus allows the user to carry out a biofeedback exercise for stress compensation.

Robert Lacroix, Head of the Architecture and Security Sections of the IT Division of private clinic operator Asklepios will present the clinic concept "Future Hospital" at MEDICA. Under the key word "One-IT" Asklepios integrates its medical specialists located at different clinic locations (with their computer workstations) into an IT network. On the basis of this standardised infrastructure, physicians - regardless of their clinic location - can interact with their colleagues, discuss patient diagnosis and therapy and, for instance, examine X-ray and ultrasound images at the monitor together.

Alongside the increasing (IT) networking of agents in the health care system another trend is the growing compactness of high-performance medical devices over conventional systems. A highlight at last year`s MEDICA was the smallest ultrasonic device in the world in waistcoat pocket format that fits into any medical emergency case. This year one innovation from the firm Maquet is "Cardiohelp", claimed to be the world`s smallest heart-lung machine. With dimensions of 50cm x 26cm x 30cm this device, weighing less than 10kg, can now be taken on board ambulances and rescue helicopters. Therefore, help can be provided to patients until now considered "immobile" due to their need to be hooked up to conventional heart-lung machines. The portable system performs human circulation outside the body and ensures the supply of oxygen to all essential organs.

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