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The increasing use of electronic patient record systems has created a fast-growing market that has lured even the likes of Google and Microsoft into it. For example, the UK's troubled National Programme for IT, was billed at £12.7bn, but may cost more.
Orange currently provides a range of healthcare applications under the Connected Hospitals brand. These speed up access to patient information at the hospital and provide internet access for patients. Other applications for doctors' offices allow remote follow-up, online appointment booking, and other services, including remote patient monitoring.
Connected Hospitals was launched in 2007 to tie in with a French government plan to modernise hospitals by 2012. It is an interactive communications platform that leads to better activity tracking and patient monitoring, the company said. Hospitals can use IT equipment that communicates, such as mobile voice and data terminals, interactive terminals, bracelets and patient protection systems, to speed up information flows and improve healthcare delivery.
Patients can use a multimedia terminal above their bed to make phone calls, access the internet and various games, check e-mail, watch videos on demand or television, and access practical information about the hospital and the hospital's medical staff.
Doctors can use the same terminals for secure access to patients' medical records and to update them during a consultation.
Other Connected Hospital features include a mobile nurse call station, a monitoring bracelet to track patients' movements, a range of tags for carts, stretchers or other equipment to track their location, and a telephone answering service based on interactive voice response servers.
Through its Bell Labs research arm, Alcatel-Lucent develops networked healthcare solutions with partners such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.
Orange and Alcatel-Lucent have a number of customers in common, such as the Polyclinique de Picardie.