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NFC Brings Visibility to British Home Care

U.K. home-care providers are testing an NFC system from mobile-phone service provider O2 that allows them to track and update a patient's records using their own mobile phones and an NFC tag at a patient's home.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 01, 2009Several British home-care organizations are trialling a Near Field Communication (NFC) system, known as O2 Home Care, in hundreds of homes in the United Kingdom. The system could change the way home-care records are tracked.

O2 Home Care is part of the vision of Britain's largest mobile-phone service provider, O2, to bring NFC capabilities into the lives of U.K. mobile phone users. The O2 Home Care solution, provided by O2 in partnership with software company Reslink, enables home-care providers to input and access records regarding a particular patient, and the care he or she receives, using an NFC-enabled mobile phone to scan a tag in that person's home. The service could be provided to mobile-phone users—either home-care companies or patients—and billed as an add-on expense for existing mobile services.


O2's Nigel Dean
O2 has been developing a range of solutions using NFC technology over the past 18 months, for both consumers and corporate businesses, says Nigel Dean, head of O2's health sector development. The solutions include a mobile-wallet that was trialled in London City Center in 2008 for six months. The test allowed participants to pay for purchases with Nokia NFC-enabled phones.

Five hundred participants used the phones to purchase merchandise in stores, as well as pay transit fares on London's public transport system, by touching the phone to an NFC reader. Participants were later asked to submit feedback, and to evaluate the ease of use, security and overall usefulness. "That was our first foray in that area [NFC]," Dean says. It began "an ongoing discussion" with trial participants, he notes, including credit card companies and retailers. "It was very successful for opening those discussions."

In the meantime, O2 began looking into business-to-business solutions that NFC could provide. That led to the partnership with Resling for a home-care solution. At present, most British patients who live at home but require health-care assistance receive such services from organizations that they pay privately, or that are funded by the government. When health-care providers enter a patient's home, they use pen and paper to manually record, in the patient's record, which services need to be provided, when the last visit occurred and their own visit. The patient may also be provided with a pendant equipped with an alarm mechanism in the event of an emergency, such as a fall.

An NFC system could make patient care more efficient and more visible, Dean says, by creating an electronic record that could be viewed by the patient, the home-care provider or a physician. So beginning in late 2008, O2 began offering its Home Care Solution for trials by several nationwide British home-care companies, which asked not to be named.

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