Issue 31, October 2012
bulletE-Health: State of the Art Diagnostics and Therapies
bulletInnovation: Prick-Free Diabetes Control: Measuring Glucose without Needles
bulletImplandata: Telemetric Glaucoma Diagnosis and Therapy
bulletSmart Card: Germany's Electronic Health Card
bulletPast Event: Health Information Technology: Electronic Medical Records and Beyond

article1E-Health: State of the Art Diagnostics and Therapies
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines e-health as the transfer of health resources and health care by electronic means. E-health encompasses three main areas: The delivery of health information through the Internet and telecommunications; the use of IT and e-commerce to improve public health services; and the use of e-commerce and e-business practices in health systems management.

E-health enhances the interaction between health care providers and patients, enables fast and reliable data transmission, access and storage, and improves cost efficiency. Telemedicine, one area of particular interest in e-health, provides diagnostics and therapy for chronically ill and elderly patients at home as well as medical care for patients in remote areas. This issue's innovation of the month, the linchpin biosensor, which helps measure glucose levels in diabetes patients, and the telemetric glaucoma diagnosis and therapy system from Implandata, are two examples of telemedicine made in Germany.

The rapid rise and adoption of smartphones and tablets have led to a surge in mobile health applications. According to a recent report, the global mHealth market was worth $1.2 billion in 2011, and will reach $11.8 billion by 2018. Bernt C. Klein, Senior Vice President Americas at Detecon Inc. of the Deutsche Telekom Group, discussed the revolutionizing force of mobile health apps at a recent panel discussion on health information technology at the GCRI. To watch the video, click here.
Prick-Free Diabetes Control
article2Innovation: Prick-Free Diabetes Control: Measuring Glucose without Needles

More than 346 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death. For most diabetes patients, pricking a finger with a needle in order to check blood glucose levels is part of everyday life. As a prick-free alternative, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg, Germany, have developed a tiny chip for non-invasive glucose level measurement with built-in digital analysis for NovioSense BV.

The linchpin diagnostic enzyme sensor can be attached under the eye and is able to analyze glucose levels from tear fluids.

The linchpin biosensor, at only 0.7 x 10.0 millimeters, includes a nanopotentiostat, an entire diagnostic system, an analog digital converter, and a wireless transponder system. While previous electrochemical sensor systems are bigger and require more energy, the Fraunhofer linchpin enzyme sensor system requires less than 100 microamperes at five volts to operate. The linchpin biosystem, which is able to send and receive data packages, is also supplied with power via radio frequency. This allows the patient continuous glucose level monitoring  for weeks or even months, without having to place a drop of blood onto a test strip. For more information, click here.

article3Implandata: Telemetric Glaucoma Diagnosis and Therapy

Glaucoma, a chronic and incurable eye disease, is also called the "silent thief" of sight because patients remain asymptomatic for a long time. Typically affecting the  elderly and individuals with a family history of glaucoma, this degenerative eye disease is caused by elevated intraocular pressure that irreversibly damages the optic nerve. Over time, the progression of the disease leads to loss of vision and blindness.

The German medical device start-up company, Implandata Ophthalmic Products (IOP) GmbH, has established a new system that allows doctors and patients to continuously measure the intraocular pressure of glaucoma patients. Designed especially for telemedical use, the IOP diagnosis tool enables early detection and can thereby help protect the patient against blindness. This ophthalmic application, which is easy to use, consists of an implantable micro sensor and a hand-held unit for data transfer and storage. The IOP system provides patients with a tool to measure their intraocular pressure at home as frequently as needed and enables doctors to monitor patients' behavior and eye pressure fluctuations on a regular basis. Implandata is currently undergoing the European regulatory approval process and soon expects the CE marking and initial market launch, to be followed by FDA approval in the U.S. In 2011, the Hannover-based company was selected as a landmark in the prestigious Germany - Land of Ideas campaign. For more information, click here.

Germany's Electronic Health Card
article4Smart Card: Germany's Electronic Health Card

After years of preparation, Germany launched the eHealth card in October 2011. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, approximately 50 million members of Germany's statutory health insurance will have received the new card by the end of 2012. The card's rollout and the establishment of a telematic infrastructure constitute the largest IT project in Europe. The eHealth card will provide access to patients' medical data, including medications and health records, enable paperless prescriptions and referrals, as well as store patients' emergency information. In contrast to the former German insurance card, the new eHealth card includes the patient's photo and gender. This additional information will help prevent identity mix-ups as well as the abuse of medical services and benefits. Due to the complex nature of the eHealth card implementation, applications have been introduced on a step-by-step basis. In the future, the back of the card will also serve as a "European health insurance card" and allow health care access across Europe. For more information on Germany's eHealth card, visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

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EMR photo
article6Past Event: Health Information Technology: Electronic Medical Records and Beyond

Electronic medical records (EMRs) have a significant impact on the future of health care: They facilitate comprehensive patient-centered care and sustainably reduce costs by bridging time and distance between health providers and patients. On October 17, 2012, the German Center for Research and Innovation and the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) New York convened specialists from the fields of health service provision, mobile health applications, pharma, and health care policy to discuss major opportunities and challenges, EMR and health IT will face in the future.

Health care law and policy expert Bruce Merlin Fried moderated the panel discussion on how ICT/IT-based medical care has the potential to transform health care services. The first speaker, Dirk Feldman, Director Strategy at Siemens Health Services, presented Siemens' responses to the challenge of accountable health care innovations and thus focused on (hospital) providers. Bernt C. Klein, Senior Vice President Americas at Detecon Inc. of the Deutsche Telekom Group, and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Renz, Corporate Vice President for Business Model & Healthcare Innovation at Boehringer Ingelheim, both addressed the consumers' perspective on electronic medical care by drawing on the revolutionizing force of mobile health apps as well as the relationship between medication adherence and electronic health record algorithms. To watch a video recording of the event, click here.