UFB – in sickness and in health

In the past few weeks we’ve been exploring how ultra fast broadband over fibre will help to further New Zealanders’ education, grow our economy, and keep us entertained. This month we’re taking a look at how Chorus’ UFB network is playing a role in improving Kiwis’ health and wellbeing through technologies like telehealth, ehealth and mhealth.

Broadband based applications are helping to extend the reach of health services further than ever before.  Hospitals have been given top priority in the roll out of the ultra fast broadband network and Chorus has now connected fibre optic cable to more than 70 hospitals and medical centres around the country.

With improved broadband speed and capacity, our medical records can be documented electronically and moved to cloud-based online services for storage and easier accessibility. In July 2014, health technology company, Orion Health announced it would be working with Auckland’s North Shore hospital to make two hospital wards paperless via an electronic information system.

Increased connectivity over fibre can improve healthcare services in rural areas around New Zealand too. In the Bay of Plenty, the government has embarked on a two-year telehealth project, where people living in remote or rural areas without a resident GP or medical clinic can use video conference facilities to consult directly with a medical professional.  Telehealth services can not only save time and money, but they can also allow people to more easily monitor their health conditions themselves.

mHealth, where people access health and wellbeing services and applications via mobile devices, is gaining in popularity as the use of smartphones and tablets grows. Connected wearable devices like FitBit trackers can help people to measure and monitor their own vital signs before uploading the data online. Connected devices like FitBit can track the number of steps you’ve walked, your heart rate, blood glucose levels, even the quality of your sleep.

In an increasingly connected online world, it’s clear the future of health care is changing. Bill Gates recently announced he is funding the development of a digital Wi-Fi version of the contraceptive pill, via a computer chip which can be planted under the skin. Healthcare technologies + ultra fast broadband = Wow.

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