Digital health solutions: updates from 6 telcos
Triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an increasing focus on enterprise opportunities, telcos are building up their services for the healthcare sector. They are working with partners to provide a range of digital health solutions including smart hospitals, remote monitoring and digital health apps. While the digital healthcare market is still nascent, there are multiple ways in which telcos have, and can, helped provide access to quality healthcare.
The deck attached to this article looks to provide some visually stimulating insights on what telcos are doing in healthcare. This article and deck look at updates from six telcos from across the globe: Verizon, HKT, STC, Globe, Telenor and Vodafone. They do not give an exhaustive overview of each telco’s strategy but instead look to draw out some of their interesting digital health solutions and products.
Furthermore, while this deck and article dive into six telcos’ strategies, STL has previously written reports on Telus health and how nine telcos are approaching the healthcare market as well as articles on 10 telco healthcare services and the digital health apps being offered by seven telcos.
As this article and deck will show, COVID-19 has greatly accelerated digital healthcare and increasingly telcos are making moves to establish or expand their healthcare offerings. These products and solutions include: digital health apps, smart hospitals, remote monitoring and virtual clinics.
Verizon has a holistic approach to its healthcare strategy, promoting the vision of providing ‘care everywhere’ through connected hospitals, connected homes and connected ambulances. Verizon also focus on transforming the doctor-patient relationship to erase spatial barriers and ensure that all have access to quality healthcare whenever they need. Verizon’s acquisition of BlueJeans in 2020 is spearheading this ambition providing the technology for patient and doctor coordination and consultation.
STC has a strong right to play in healthcare in their market of Saudi Arabia due to their widespread infrastructural footprint and technological maturity. They launched their innovative virtual clinics due to Covid-19 which encompass the remote monitoring of patients, video consultations and deployment of equipment and treatment if necessary. These clinics are connected via cloud connection over STC’s fibre network. STC also provides assistance to the healthcare industry through:
- Enterprise medical imaging (EMI) providing access to data for radiologists
- Tari, a communications system which connects patients and doctors
- A centralized appointment system, unifying previously fragmented solutions.
In their primary market of Scandinavia, Telenor are looking to provide access to quality healthcare for their ageing population with a drive to digitise and automate healthcare. They are focusing on: increasing mobile workflow and the secure data transfer of electronic records; remote patient monitoring through their app Tryggi; and the development of smart hospitals through multiple pilots in Norway. Furthermore, Telenor are expanding into Asia through their healthcare offering known as Tonic. In Bangladesh, Tonic is seeking to reduce healthcare inequalities by providing science-backed health and education, access to immediate medical advice via phone at low costs, and discounts and cash through mobile banking or SMS to help cover the cost of unexpected hospitalisation. Furthermore, triggered by the outbreak of Dengue fever in 2019, Tonic has expanded into India, launching an app to facilitate home testing and video consultations.
HKT is looking to alleviate pressure on health services due to the ageing population of Hong Kong and to bridge inequalities between public and private healthcare. HKT has primarily sought to do this through apps, launching an eSmart app in 2016 as a personal wellness and healthcare management system. In 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, they launched their app DrGo to facilitate medical consultations and prescription management. They have since expanded this app to offer specialist mental health and psychiatric consultations. HKT are also developing their 5G smart hospital solutions to incorporating 4K video, 3D imaging, VR and AI technologies.
Globe Telecom are aiming to benefit healthcare enterprises in two ways. Firstly by empowering their workforce through M2M technology, their cloud based software GoCanvas, and the sharing capabilites of Google Suite. Secondly, they look to optimise enterprise operations by ensuring data safety and cybersecurity. In addition, Globe’s KonsultaMD app launched in 2020 providing a plethora of services including video consultations, sharing of medical records, an online prescription service and a mental health space. This app has been endorsed by the government and its use has grown exponentially over the pandemic, providing affordable healthcare access 24/7 to people in the Philippines.
Vodafone are exploring different areas of digital healthcare, believing that digitization of healthcare is key to saving lives. For example, they have expanded their remote monitoring solutions to enable safe assisted living in the home through intelligent monitoring systems and advanced IoT connectivity. Additionally, using their Redbox technology, they have built Europe’s first 5G clinic on the medical campus of of Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf (UKD) in Germany, enabling expert surgeons to virtually assist in operating theatres, for example. To further drive their healthcare offerings, Vodafone have strategically partnered with Deloitte to harness their life sciences expertise and advance the adoption of connected healthcare across their markets.
Accelerated by Covid-19, telcos are increasingly making moves and expanding their reach in the healthcare industry to facilitate low-cost access to quality care. These offerings range from digital health apps and remote monitoring to connected ambulances and smart hospitals tied together by the aim of digitizing the healthcare industry to enable access to care at all times and in all places.
Telcos are diversifying their healthcare offerings, exploring multiple ways to achieve this vision, which ties in to our concept of the Coordination Age, as well as working with various partners who bring vital expertise and knowledge of the industry to increase the credibility and effectiveness of telco solutions.
Author: Izzy Montgomery is a consultant at STL Partners, specialising in digital health and network transformation.
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