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Live From Management World Americas: eHealth and Smart Energy

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Jessica ZimetBy Jessica Zimet

Health care and energy were both called out among the top verticals for enterprise digital services during Tuesday's keynote sessions at Management World Americas in Orlando. TM Forum’s Tony Poulos led a discussion with experts in these fields to learn more about supporting these segments, and the challenges they face.

eHealth presents many opportunities in improving patient care, allowing health care to be extended into the home, and enabling health-care providers to easily access patient files. But eHealth initiatives are complex, often serving layers of customers, multiple health-care providers, as well as the end-patients themselves. Though patient data usually goes to the health-care provider, patients themselves are increasingly becoming interested in accessing and using their own data. The data itself is siloed, often fragmented across the ecosystem, and it’s often unclear who owns it.

The panel on eHealth and smart grids at Management World Americas 2012 in Orlando.According to eHealth expert and consultant Jody Ranck, interoperability is the biggest challenge, as there are not any standards among systems in place. Trust and best practices are also lacking — innovative applications stand alongside those with no science behind them. Adoption rates of applications and electronic medical records are slow, but it’s happening — paper records don’t necessarily result in very best standard of care. Done right, digital records should make health care more a more seamless experience and reduce mistakes. With immediate, easy access to files, connected health initiatives could facilitate early detection and diagnosis, saving thousands of dollars on patient care, and more importantly, patient lives.

So what needs to happen? Cooperation. Says Ranck, “Right now we’re infatuated with our shiny new devices, but what’s really going to take things forward in health care is partnerships, finding ways to work together – all players in the ecosystem." As in the communications industry, health-care competitors will need to come together to put standards and interfaces in place. They’ll also need to partner with players like communications service providers. According to Ranck, attitudes previously seen toward the private sector have turned around, and are now seen much more as valuable potential partners. He points to the idea that even though we haven’t quite wrapped our heads around it, communications service providers are, in a sense, becoming health-care providers.

Isaias Sudit of GridGlo focuses on big data analytics for energy companies. “Smart meters" enable better energy management, and allow consumers to better understand and manage energy consumption. Using an M2M model, components talk to each other, benefitting customers with cost savings and an easy way to be eco-friendly. Smart meters and smart grids also enable real-time response to issues. Instead of hearing about problems from the customers, energy companies can see when there’s a problem and address it before even the customer notices. Sound like a familiar scenario? But smart data in the energy sector isn’t any easier than in communications. With more than 3,600 utilities companies in the United States alone, there isn’t any single source to aggregate and access data. And usually there are multiple silos of data just within the same company (finance data, usage data, etc.). And additions like solar panels add another layer of complexity. According to Sudit, the energy industry can also look to the communications industry for best practices in managing data. While the telecom industry today is unrecognizable from to 100 years ago and has had to change drastically, the energy industry is exactly the same. Sudit points to providing the data from the meter to the data warehouse as a key area for communications service providers to support energy companies, as it’s extremely expensive for them to build these networks, and there’s overlap with connected home management.

Jessica Zimet is head of social media marketing at Amdocs . You can follow her live coverage of Management World Americas this week on the @Amdocs twitter channel and the Amdocs blog network .

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