World Bank invests $1.5 billion in eHealth

The World Bank has invested approximately $1.5 billion across 55 eHealth projects, and is now working with The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society to advance health IT globally. The partnership aims to develop policies to stimulate open markets and to address issues such as infrastructure, data protection and governance, according to a new report.

In the context of the $6 trillion global health market health information technology and management systems is relatively small at less than 2 percent, according to the reportAdvancing Global Health IT: A Consultation with the World Bank at HIMSS12. But at its current 10 percent growth rate, it is expected to increase $250 billion in 2015.

Because of this, the health IT sector could transform the overall healthcare sector, as well as regional economies, in the next few years, notes that the bank. 

To that end, the issues include data security, safety standards, quality standards and provider reimbursement. Business issues include the need to simplify business regulations required to enter and grow in the market and the need to ensure a level playing field through antitrust legislation.

The groups want to support access to financing by companies of all sizes and to make the regulatory environment less tedious and more stable and predictable for investors.

As an example, the medical technology market in India is estimated to be $5 billion by the end of 2012, reports The Hindu Business Line. Yet 68 per cent of the population lives in rural areas far from cities and towns. Telemedicine was touted as the answer, but it hasn't taken off as expected--power outages are common and bandwidth constraints when power is available limit the quality of images that can be transmitted. 

Facing a lack of infrastructure to make initiatives such as telemedicine work, the report notes that an alternative may be mobile phones, which are present throughout the world and are the main channel for enabling patient access to information.

In the United States, the telemedicine market is predicted to reach $2.5 billion by 2018. Yet as smartphones and other hand-held devices are increasingly used to deliver remote care, doctors remain leery.

To learn more:
- read the full report
- here's the Healthcare Informatics piece
- check out the Hindu Business Line article.

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