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Telemedicine Offers New Possibilities in Health Care

Medtronic measure the electrical resistance between the pacing lead in the heart and the pulse generator under the collarbone. A drop in resistance is a sign that fluid is collecting in the lungs. The physician is then notified via a mobile-phone text message.

Health Manager, a device by the Stuttgart-based company Biocomfort that costs around 800 euros, measures blood pressure, weight, body fat and blood sugar. By early 2007, it will also be designed to check heart rhythm.

It sends the data by radio to a personal computer or personal digital assistant, whose software makes a health assessment and gives warnings and health tips via email.

The monitoring techniques available in telemedicine will mainly benefit people who are familiar with modern information technologies, noted Wolf-Dietrich Lorenz, editor in chief of Munich-based Krankenhaus-IT Journal (Hospital-IT Journal).

"Elderly people who can't make sense of these technologies will definitely be in over their heads," he remarked.

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