Spain's Telefónica latest telecom to enter e-health realm

Yet another multinational telecommunications firm has taken the plunge into health IT.

Spain-based Telefónica last week launched its global e-health unit, which the company says will concentrate on decentralization of clinical processes and on providing ubiquitous, remote access to health services to create a more efficient healthcare sector. "[The e-health division] aims to become a standard bearer in the areas of products, pilot projects and know-how," Telefónica Chairman César Alierta said in a company statement. Spanish Health Minister Trinidad Jiménez joined Alierta at the announcement last week.

The unit initially will cover the 11 European and Latin American countries Telefónica currently operates in. The company already is involved in more than 80 telemedicine and telehealth projects in nine of those nations, and is a member of the Continua Health Alliance, the United Nations Office for Partnerships' Digital Health Initiative, the European Commission and the World Health Organization. In 2005, Telefónica became the first European firm to open an R&D department specifically for health IT and technology-based healthcare, according to a press release.

Telefónica intends to market "converging communications"--fixed, wireless and Internet services--to healthcare providers and to local health organizations, the company says.

For more information:
- take a look at this E-Health Europe story
- check out this article from GSMA Mobile Business Briefing
- read this Telefónica press release (.pdf)