M-Health is possible in Africa
Greater Manchester’s potential as a global hub for the emerging multi-billion pound digital health market will be showcased at a conference next week.Beyond Digital Health Manchester 2011 will bring together healthcare and ICT experts seeking to improve patient care and reduce costs.
It is believed digital innovations are capable of saving the NHS up to £20bn a year and could provide accessible healthcare to some of the world’s poorest and most remote regions.
Manchester is already seen as a leading global centre in the field.
It is classified as one of only three European ‘Mhealth’ ecosystems, alongside Barcelona and Helsinki, by the European Mhealth Alliance – members of which include Intel and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen.
The city employs 22,000 people in the biomedical sector and 100,000 in ICT.
Conference organiser MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, believes the event will help promote collaboration between these sectors and facilitate the development of digital health solutions.
Damien Roberts, biomedical sector lead at MIDAS, said: “It is broadly accepted that electronic and mobile health provide one of the best possible routes for improving patient outcomes and will make it cheaper.
“All the big technology and mobile operators recognise this as an area that will see major growth in the future.
“If we can get healthcare and digital technology companies to collaborate we may realise that many solutions probably already exist.
“This is a massive emerging technology area and this is being driven by necessity and that necessity is creating opportunities for businesses, which, by refining their technology, could generate the massive profits this could deliver.”
The UK currently spends £110bn a year on healthcare, and digital technology, such as telehealth tools which are capable of monitoring patients vital signs remotely, are believed capable of reducing that figure by 19 per cent a year.
Some of the biggest potential gains from digital healthcare may, however, come in remote areas of the developing world.
Mr Roberts said: “Rural areas of Africa and India may be a long way from healthcare but mobile phones are widespread and if they have that capability they can report symptoms.”
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the conference, at the Bridgewater Hall on December 13 and 14, will look at digital solutions for personalised medicine, assisted living and remote diagnostics.
Keynote speakers include Kevin Dean, managing director of networking giant Cisco’s connected health division and Matthew Walls, chief executive of biotechnology company Epistem.