Experience in security technology has provided the basis for many companies to expand into the growing health-care sector. Spain has universal health care, decentralized among its 17 regions. National identity cards are expected to facilitate the system’s transfer to Electronic records, and security is key in managing electronic health records.
But security is only one potential application for information technology companies in the health-care sector. A number of Spain’s most prominent IT companies saw the burgeoning growth of computerized and online health-care management as a business opportunity.
Telvent, which specializes in information technology and services around the world, began branching into health care services five years ago. The original products included IT developed for health-care such as customer information systems; those systems have been applied to managing centralized health records of millions of people in Spain and in the Dominican Republic and are now being introduced in Chile, Peru, and Brazil.
Telvent saw an opportunity to apply its experience in digital imaging to health-care specialization as well. The digital-imaging technology was originally developed for national identification cards in order to recognize patterns in documents and photographs and to screen noncitizens.
“For radiology, it’s more or less the same. You have to work with graphic libraries in order to recognize certain patterns, such as diseases,” says Adolfo Borrero, Telvent’s health-care and public administration vice president. This imaging technology is in use in the Dominican Republic for telemedicine. Looking to the future, company engineers are developing three-dimensional software that will build an image from thin photo slices of a patient’s body; the 3-D image will assist surgeons in planning operations. Indra, another major Spanish IT company, has capitalized on its experience in managing transportation and traffic control to develop a health-care product that integrates all the information for a given patient within the health-care system.
The newest system also includes information on a patient’s social and occupational life. “It’s a complete health record, not just a clinical record,” says José Cubelos, Indra’s health sector director.
“Health-care expenses are growing, we have an older population, there’s an increase in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes,” says Cubelos. “The challenge here is to be able to connect and put in place the different processes for the providers of healthcare services and the patient.” Healthcare 2.0, as Indra refers to its product, was developed following the company’s experience implementing regional health-care systems for more than 18 million Spaniards. Indra is now delivering regional and countrywide healthcare IT, including systems for hospitals and primary care, in Portugal’s Azores Islands and in a Brazilian state of Acre, and the company is competing to deploy its system in Middle Eastern countries.