Year of Execution: 2005/6
Duration: 12-18 months

eHealth and telemedecine via satellite – demonstrations for the transition phase


Integration and Pilot Exploitation of Satcom in support to three different Telemedicine Domains:

  • Health Early Warning
  • Management of Medical Emergency for Commercial Aviation
  • Interconnectivity for Healthcare Services and Professional Medical Education bridging Communities in Eastern and Western Europe


Demonstrate the exploitation of Satcom in three key domains of Telemedicine and validate the associated sustainability through a user driven approach.

The activity on Health Early Warning will be aimed to integrate, deploy and validate a satcom based system devoted to gather data from the field to predict communicable disease diffusion patterns and associated risks of outbreak. The system will provide also a fast and resilient way to distribute over geographical areas alarms and information to the population to facilitate adequate protective measures for the safeguard of the citizens’ health. The system will be conceived in particular to face healthcare consequences of catastrophic events such as the Tsunami that has hit Asia at the end of 2004.

The activity of Management of Medical Emergency for Commercial Aviation will be aimed to develop, integrate and validate in a pre-operational pilot a portable telemedicine system to support diagnosis from on-board of civil aircrafts. The system will provide interactive multimedia data exchange between the aircraft and the ground based medical centre to support decision in case of medical emergency on whether to go for a flight diversion and which actions to take on board

The activity of Interconnectivity for Healthcare Services and Professional Medical Education bridging Communities in Eastern and Western Europe will integrate, bring to a pilot exploitation period and validate the associated sustainability of a satellite based system supporting remote medical consultation and healthcare professional education and collaboration between two medical systems, one in a remote areas of Eastern Europe, the other in one Western European country.

Compliance with GSP studies:

The proposed activities represent concrete examples of utilitarian activities where space systems are used in support of both public services and commercial offerings for the benefit of the citizens.


The EUI Directorate of ESA is actively working since 2003 in defining a roadmap for promoting the transition of eHealth and Telemedicine via satellite from being a collection of exploratory and pilot projects originated by industry to sustainable opportunities able to bring benefits to the citizens and with clear impacts to the healthcare system. The result of this work performed by the ESA Telemedicine Working Group paved the way for the creation of a new ESA Telemedicine Programme. The proposed activities are instrumental for preparing the ground for this new programme.

ESA’s expertise in the field:
Since 1996 ESA is proactive in promoting the use of Satcom for Telemedicine. Several activities have been placed so far with industry under the different elements of the ARTES programme to develop and pilot Telemedicine applications via satellite. ESA is therefore adequately placed in terms of technical and programmatic expertise to deal with this subject.


Telemedicine can bring significant market opportunities for Satcom based systems and services. Such opportunities are today, to a large extent, still in embryonic form. The development and pilot activities hosted so far in the ARTES programme have been instrumental to explore industry-lead activities, which have explored the technical feasibility of different solutions in different domains of Telemedicine (such as emergency consultation, teleconsultation, tele-homecare, clinical research and medical education). These activities have been instrumental in raising awareness among the potential end users and associated stakeholders.

As identified by the ESA Telemedicine Working Group, to promote the uptake of Telemedicine via satellite it is necessary to have clear commitments, like financial risk sharing, coming form the end user community. This is justified by the fact that Telemedicine services bring benefits in the day-to-day operational environment of the end users. To pursue this, there is the need to shift the approach from the industry lead Telecom initiative to a user-driven one, which constitute the paradigm of the future Telemedicine via Satellite programme.

Plan of work:

Each of the three activities will include tasks of definition, procurement, implementation, integration, operations, evaluation, impact assessment and sustainability plan. The activities can involve industrial participation as third party advice and provision, but the investing partners (prime contractor and subcontractors, if any) will be representatives of the demand side for Telemedicine services and/or associated stakeholders.


December 2004, “OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF EHEALTH AND TELEMEDICINE VIA SATELLITE”, C. Dario, A. Dunbar, F. Feliciani, M. Garcia-Barbero, S. Giovannetti, G. Graschew, A. Güell, A. Horsch, M. Jenssen, L. Kleinebreil, R. Latifi, M. M. Lleo, P. Mancini, M. T. J. Mohr, P. Ortiz García, S. Pedersen, J. M. Pérez-Sastre, A. Rey - Eur J Med Res - Supplement Proceedings of ESRIN- Symposium, July 5, Frascati, Italy

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