Italy, Denmark try remote monitoring of elderly, COPD patients

One European country is beginning a major test of telemedicine and remote monitoring, while another is moving ahead with plans to expand two pilots nationally.

IBM last week launched Secure Living, a program to help improve the lives and independence of elderly residents of Bolzano, Italy, with home-based health sensors and remote support. The program, part of IBM's "Smart City" initiative, will provide wireless, sensor-equipped monitoring devices to 30 patients who are in their 80s. While telephone help is available for health questions and physical and mental fitness recommendations, the heart of the system is a network of wearable sensors that send data to a municipal control center. If there's evidence that a patient has fallen, the town can dispatch medical assistance.

In Denmark, health officials have begun a home-monitoring pilot that could affect 800,000 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allowing hospitals to discharge patients who would be more comfortable at home. Another program, currently in testing at Odense University Hospital, provides a videoconferencing translation service that helps foreign patients who don't speak Danish communicate with hospital staff. Danish officials have given the OK for national rollouts of both programs, to be completed by 2012.

For more:
- check out this InformationWeek story on the IBM Secure Living project
- read this E-Health Europe piece on the Danish initiatives