New Cities Foundation Study in Rio Reveals Huge Potential for E-health in Underserved Urban Areas
Press release: 8 May 2013
Contact: Marina Bradbury, email@example.com, +33 6 17 79 17 72
- First major study investigating the potential impact of e-health technology in urban areas
- Findings reveal that e-health technology can significantly reduce municipal healthcare spending, improve disease detection and increase access to primary care
- ”We should not wait for this kind of innovation to slowly trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid. We should start where better access to healthcare is needed most and we should do so using the best available technology.” Mathieu Lefevre, Executive Director, New Cities Foundation
Rio de Janeiro – 8 May 2013. The New Cities Foundation today announced the findings of a pioneering Urban E-Health Project revealing the potential economic, clinical and social benefits of e-health technology in the world’s poorest urban areas.
The World Health Organization defines e-health as ‘the transfer of health resources and health care by electronic means.’ The capacity of e-health technology to monitor patients remotely has previously been tested in low-resource, rural settings. The New Cities Foundation’s project is the first major investigation into the impact of e-health technology in underserved urban areas.
The findings mark the end of an 18-month long pilot project undertaken in Santa Marta, an underserved community of Rio de Janeiro. Led by the New Cities Foundation, an international non-profit organization, the pilot is part of a Task Force run in partnership with the Municipality of Rio, and GE, a New Cities Foundation Founding Member. The pilot was further supported by NCF Founding Member, Cisco. The Department of Clinical Medicine at the State University of Rio de Janeiro collected the data and conducted the analysis for the study.
Today’s results indicate that the integration of e-health technology into the healthcare system of underserved urban areas, such as Santa Marta, can lead to major economic savings for the health system as a whole, increased efficiency for healthcare workers, better access to vital healthcare for patients who need it most, and increased satisfaction among patients and health professionals.
Mathieu Lefevre, Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, said: “The transformative potential of urban e-health is huge. At a time when the global urban population is aging rapidly and going through a shift from communicable to chronic diseases, our project shows the great potential benefits that e-health technology can bring to urban healthcare globally. We should not wait for this kind of innovation to slowly trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid. This study shows that we can and should start where better access to healthcare is needed most and we should do so using the best available technology. We’re excited to have led this pioneering project which, we hope, will be replicated in other cities.”
Hans Dohmann, Municipal Secretary of Health of Rio de Janeiro, said: "I'm happy to participate in the News Cities Foundation’s work in Santa Marta, a partnership with the ‘Family Clinic’. The project facilitates access to health services, especially for the elderly, and people who have difficulty getting around, and improves the physicians’ work, making diagnosis and appointments easier. It is also good for management because prevention impacts positively on health indicators”.
Reinaldo Garcia, President and CEO for GE Latin America, said: “In GE we deal with the world’s toughest problems and we try to bring solutions to them. That’s also the case in healthcare. In order to amplify health access in low-income communities such as Santa Marta in Rio de Janeiro, we assembled a ‘health backpack’. This solution enabled professionals to offer accessible quality healthcare to underprivileged urban areas.”
Denizar Vianna, Associate Professor and Michelle Quarti, Senior Researcher, State University of Rio de Janeiro, said: “Engaging in promising projects like the Urban E-health Project in Rio is extremely relevant to the academic community. It’s increasingly necessary to encourage the use of knowledge generated by scientific research for decision-making in the health field. Partnerships such as this one help our academic community to respond to the health needs of the population of Rio, our greatest asset.”
Setup of the Urban E-health Project
In the pilot project, the Task Force provided Santa Marta’s Family Clinic with an e-health backpack. The backpack contains state-of-the-art health indicator measurement tools provided by GE. Using the e-health backpack, clinic staff provided in-home care to a sample of 100 patients aged 60 and above. Patients selected for the study suffer from chronic diseases and face mobility problems. Given the steep terrain in Santa Marta, these patients would normally have difficulty accessing health services and the Family Clinic located at the bottom of a hill.
Researchers from the State University of Rio de Janeiro compared the clinical results from the e-health pilot to the data of a historical control group. This control group was made up of patients who had not benefited from the E-health Project.
1. Economic Impact
The study showed that e-health technology enhances patient monitoring and leads to better management of diseases. This in turn leads to direct savings including:
- A USD 200,541 (Brazilian Reals, $403,628) saving per 100 patients per year attributed to avoidance of kidney failure
- A USD 32,521 (Brazilian Reals $65,454) saving per 100 patients per year due to better management and prevention of strokes
- A USD 135,876 (Brazilian Reals $273,750) saving per 1,000 patients per year in avoided hospitalizations for patients with cardiovascular conditions
A complete list of the estimated cost savings can be found in the full report, at http://www.newcitiesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/PDF/Research/New-Cities-Foundation-E-Health-Full-Report.pdf.
2. Clinical Impact
The project reveals the significant potential clinical benefits that e-health can bring. Regular health monitoring programs that incorporate e-health can lead to a significantly lower prevalence of certain clinical conditions – in particular, strokes, heart failure and kidney dysfunction. For example, for patients in the control group, there was a 14.8% prevalence of hypertension complications, compared to 0.82% for patients in the e-health pilot. In the case of type II diabetes patients undergoing hemodialysis, the control group had a 28% occurrence compared to 6.36% in the e-health pilot.
3. Social Impact
The e-health backpack markedly increased efficiency for healthcare workers. Most significantly, the time taken to obtain blood test results shifted from 15 days to only 3 minutes. Equipped with the backpack, clinic staff could walk up the community’s narrow streets and perform in-home visits and detect up to twenty different diseases within minutes. This increased efficiency led to high satisfaction among healthcare workers and patients alike.
For example, Francisco, the son of an 87-year old patient who can no longer walk, said: “Now [the Family Clinic nurse] does blood exams and measures blood pressure at home. This facilitates our life a lot. We don’t have to go down the hill all the way to the clinic with her.”
Anecdotal evidence collected during the project also indicates a clear sense of empowerment resulting from the use of the backpack. Santa Marta residents and healthcare workers expressed their pride in the fact that such pioneering technology was being tested in a community such as theirs.
This project is part of the New Cities Foundation’s overall mission to create innovative solutions to the most pressing urban challenges, which can be scaled and replicated in cities worldwide.
A 5-minute video documentary will soon be launched, offering further insight into the project and its key players. The video will be available at www.newcitiesfoundation.org.
The full report, including all key statistics and patient survey, can be found at http://www.newcitiesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/PDF/Research/New-Cities-Foundation-E-Health-Full-Report.pdf
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About the New Cities Foundation
The New Cities Foundation is a leading global platform for innovation and high-level exchange on the future of the urban world. Working to create more dynamic, sustainable, just and creative cities with a special focus on rapidly urbanizing regions, the Foundation fosters urban innovations and new partnerships among government, business, the research community and civil society.
The New Cities Foundation hosts a number of leadership events on cities including its flagship event, the New Cities Summit, and other leadership events worldwide. This year’s New Cities Summit will take place in São Paulo, Brazil from June 4 - 6, 2013 around the theme “The Human City”. In parallel, the Foundation’s research wing, the Urban (co)LAB, manages a number of applied urban research projects including NCF Task Forces and thought leadership activities. The Urban E-Health Project in Rio is part of the Urban (co)LAB.
An independent, non-profit organization, the New Cities Foundation was created in 2010 and is financed by its members, which include some of the most forward-thinking companies, universities, cities and city organizations around the world. The New Cities Foundation’s founding members are Cisco, Ericsson and GE. The Foundation is based in Geneva with offices in Paris, New York and Rio de Janeiro.
About the City of Rio de Janeiro
Capital of Rio de Janeiro state, the city of Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second largest city in terms of population, with 6.3 million residents. The Municipal Health Secretariat, local manager of the national Unified Health System, is responsible for assisting the population with basic health services and preventive actions and urgent and emergency care. The “Family Clinics” are included in the context of basic and preventive health and are instrumental in the democratization of care. In the last four years, 70 of these units were established, covering 41.08% of Rio's population.
GE works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works.
The e-health technology used in this project is part of GE’s healthymagination strategy, whose main purpose is to extend healthcare services to a larger number of people at lower costs, with higher quality. The healthymagination platform is reflected by GE’s commitment to invest US$ 6 billion between 2009 and 2015 on innovation and solutions to fulfill this purpose.
The E-health Project in Rio incorporates GE’s concept of reverse innovation, considering that the high technology developed and applied in emerging countries to solve its local challenges can be exported to other nations – including those ones developed – with similar needs. This kind of reverse innovation is part of GE’s localization strategy.
About UERJ - State University of Rio de Janeiro
Founded in 1950, UERJ has gradually grown and established itself as one of the leading universities in Brazil. Its importance in the Brazilian academic space can be attested by its quality of higher education, the value of its scientific production, the hundreds of extension projects in development, the promotion of culture and the many services provided to the population.