Distance care - an initial overview

Future benefits to the EU and its health care services

A new report commissioned by Leonardo ENERGY gives a clear overview of the market potential for home care related ICT applications in Europe. Interesting is that the study follows three different yet complementary approaches to the subject:

  • Socio-economic review
  • Medical aspects
  • Practical approaches and technical solutions

Socio-economic review

In its first chapter, the report presents demographic trends for selected countries (Germany, UK, Spain and Italy). The report compares variables such as life expectancy, mortality, and dependency by gender.

Medical aspects and chronic diseases

Based on these demographic developments, the report comments on the resulting market potential for home care related ICT applications. The home sector is by far the most extensive for care services to elderly people in Europe.

The chapter includes:

  • Definition of terms used
  • Commentary on the state of distribution of telematics in selected countries
  • Short description of selected chronic diseases related to telematics and/or telecare applications
  • Review of the ethical perspectives on the use of telematics for people with dementia
  • Discussion on socio-economic benefits and the consequences for national strategies and the broad range of different target groups

Practical approaches and technical solutions in distance care

The last section of the report provides an overview of running projects on home care, rehabilitation and self determined living. It concentrates on projects that offer the most advanced and best practices, and are likely to be rolled out for mass application. The objectives and the means for realization are described for each project. In addition, qualitative and quantitative results are reported, with focus on costs, benefits, and relevance for the Home of the Future.

The report was commissioned by Leonardo ENERGY and written by Prof. Dr. Martha Meyer and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Langguth of the university of applied sciences Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes (HTW), Germany, and Dipl-Ing. Stefan Gerhard from the Institut für ZukunftsEnergieSysteme GmbH (IZES), Germany.

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  • The integration of telecare/telemedicine into the home is not just a technical challenge but also a socio-economic one.
  • It is necessary to approach the problem holistically to find appropriate solutions.
  • Key issues are user friendliness, cost and critical mass use.
  • Additional education is needed to ensure telecare/telemedicine is developed successfully.
  • Training is required for engineers, planners and installers.