Huawei Telemedicine Helps Treat Chronic Diseases in an Aging Population
An aging population and chronic diseases are two of the world’s major social problems. According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a country or a region is considered aged when the number of people over 60 years old account for 10 percent or more of the total population or the number of people over 65 accounts for 7 percent or more of its total population. If the number of people over 60 years old accounts for more than 15 percent of the total population, the county or region is called super-aged. Worldwide statistics show there are:
An aging population and chronic diseases are two of the world’s major social problems. According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a country or a region is considered aged when the number of people over 60 years old account for 10 percent or more of the total population or the number of people over 65 accounts for 7 percent or more of its total population. If the number of people over 60 years old accounts for more than 15 percent of the total population, the county or region is called super-aged.
Worldwide statistics show there are:
- 1 billion hypertension sufferers
- 250 million diabetics (over 3.2 million people die of diabetes each year)
- About 17.5 million people die of heart diseases, representing 30 percent of the total death rate
The lack of professional healthcare personnel and easily available medical treatment worsens those problems and increases healthcare costs. China, for example, has a large number of senior citizens and many of them have chronic diseases. In China, most senior citizens treat their diseases at home. To address these issues worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed to governments to increase the efficiency of their healthcare resources. Huawei is helping to answer the problem with telemedicine technology that is making possible efficient remote medical care.
Age and Chronic Illness
By the end of 2002, the number of people aged over 60 accounted for 10 percent of the world's total population, which means the world, including developing and developed nations, is now in an aging state. France has been an aging society since 1865. Japan became a super-aged society in 1970. In 1999, many developed Chinese provinces and cities qualified as aging. Remote Chinese provinces and cities are expected to become aging societies before 2020.
China has 170 million people with hypertension and 60 million diabetics. Only 1 percent of them are in hospital for treatment and the average annual medical expanse for each patient is US$815. There are also 30 million heart disease patients, and over 2.5 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year.
Most citizens do not have the necessary knowledge and cannot provide efficient healthcare services for senior family members at home. China does not have sufficient medical care personnel and the existing healthcare system cannot balance medical resources among regions. There are only 14 doctors for every 10,000 Chinese citizens, which is less than half that of developed countries. About 80 percent of medical resources are used for disease treatment and only 20 percent are used for routine care and disease prevention.
Since economic development requires labor forces to frequently move from place to place, the lack of medical treatment is a major social problem. Solving this problem will not only improve medical services, but also free a considerable amount of the work force.
Huawei’s Telemedicine Solution
By integrating medical care, communications, and network technologies, Huawei has developed a telemedicine solution that enables senior citizens and chronic disease patients to monitor their own health and provide healthcare services at home. The analyst firm of Frost & Sullivan predicts that the development of the worldwide telemedicine service industry has just begun.
Medical institutions and patients urgently need a solution that provides timely health services such as electrocardiograms, blood pressure monitoring, and blood-sugar testing. In addition, telemedicine that treats diseases will further lower the mortality rate of major chronic diseases.
Europe and America, with comprehensive medical care systems and government support, are leading the development of health monitoring devices and services with 90 percent of the global market. Remote health monitoring devices have a total available market of more than US$1.5 billion, and the available market for telemedicine services is expected to be the same.
China's remote health monitoring devices (electrocardiography accounts for 56 percent of the market and blood pressure devices 29 percent) are still in development. The total Chinese market for these devices is estimated to multiply in the next few years, plus a breakthrough is expected soon for blood-sugar monitoring devices.
The remote medical care industry consists of remote health monitoring devices and telemedicine services. Remote health monitoring devices are required to be small in size, able to be used at home, support remote communications, and meet service requirements of mobile health monitoring. Telemedicine services must use advanced communication and network technologies to integrate social medical and security resources.
Figure 1-1 Telemedicine solution workflow
At this stage, telemedicine development brings the following benefits:
- Recording and managing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and enabling self-service health monitoring and evaluation, which is helping to improve patients' living conditions.
- Enabling patients to quickly contact doctors so they can take advantage of customized medical care services anywhere and anytime.
- Patients are receiving more convenient monitoring and treatment after surgery.
- Medical care personnel are able to improve their efficiency and provide services for more patients.
- Integrating social resources such as hospitals, communities, social assistance, and drugstores is improving medical care and lowering comprehensive medical care expanses.