European mobile operator Orange Austria announced that it has partners with Alcatel-Lucent and the Austrian Workers' Samaritan Association to launch a mobile health offering, called "healthe health package" in Austria. Healthe enables users to measure, track, and transmit their vital signs, including blood pressure and blood glucose, and send the data (automatically encrypted) through their mobiles up to a central online platform. Last week the mobile carrier began marketing the service at its more than 90 brick-and-mortar stores across the country. The service launched following a one year pilot study with 42 patients.
Healthe comes with a flat monthly fee, in other words it includes the price of the data transmission, and also allows up to five people to access a single account's information: Parent, spouse, child, friend, caregiver -- whoever. The flat fee is 10 Euros per month on top of whatever the subscriber is already paying for regular mobile service from Orange Austria. Healthe has a SMS or email-powered notification feature that costs users an additional 2 Euros per month. The notifications alert users if a scheduled measurement is missed or if readings are outside expected parameters.
As 3G Doctor's David Doherty pointed out on that company's blog, the flat fee pricing from Orange Austria is likely greeted by some industry watchers as a smart move since the user will not have to compute the monthly cost of Healthe based on the amount of data they move each month.
Orange Austria has now joined the ranks of the precious few major mobile operators who are offering branded mobile health services. Orange Austria joins Australian mobile operator Telstra in this distinction. Telstra launched a high profile wireless-enabled diabetes service with Entra Health Systems late last year. Meanwhile, US carriers have told MobiHealthNews time and again that they won't be launching carrier-branded mobile health services, but I think that standoff may break in the next year.