RFID And Mobile Phones Could Help Fight Obesity

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Wireless and mobile technologies will revolutionise healthcare over the next two decades, according to a report published by Cambridge based consultants Wireless Healthcare. The report describes how the ability to scan RFID devices with mobile phones could provide shoppers with a wide range of dietary and healthcare related information when they are buying groceries. Wireless Healthcare believe that while these services will be created by independent organisations, retailers will use them to show they are keen to promote healthy eating.

The report, Wireless Healthcare 2004, suggests that retailers could become important players in the public healthcare sector and highlights examples such as Wal-Mart and Basha Stores in the US who have already experimented with in-store testing for diabetes and skin cancer.

The report points out that mobile and wireless based healthcare services will cause gradual fragmentation of the healthcare sector, as an increasing number of clinical processes and patient monitoring services are provided by private companies. The report identifies home monitoring of the elderly and GPS enabled phones that double as heart monitors as technologies that have been 'productised' and are marketed to patients. Wireless Healthcare feel these services could provide significant revenue for mobile operators, and enable a number of clinical processes to be outsourced or supported off-shore where staffing costs are lower.

Peter Kruger, Senior Analyst at Wireless Healthcare, believes wireless and mobile technology has come along at an opportune time. "For decades the healthcare sector has lagged behind the manufacturing and financial sectors in the adoption of automated processes. Now it can use mobile and wireless technology to realise the sort of efficiency gains achieved by banks and large businesses. Mobile technology could also open up the healthcare sector to next generation providers."

The report concludes that while the NHS is already geared up to dealing with an increasing number of elderly patients, and could probably cope with a rise in instances of obesity related diseases, it cannot do both without automating clinical processes and using technology to improve public health.

Peter Kruger will be presenting a paper on the use of RFID as a public healthcare platform at The Wireless Connectivity World Conference in Amsterdam on 9th June 2004.

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