Vodafone launches mobile healthcare unit; CEO hints at further deals

Pushing further into the mobile services sector, Vodafone has unveiled a healthcare unit to specifically work with pharmaceutical companies and government organisations. The remit of the new team, according to Vodafone's CEO, Vittorio Colao, was to focus on healthcare solutions and to better understand the needs of healthcare professionals.

"I believe that mobile technology has a significant role to play in the provision of health care, primarily in the simplification of work flows, statistical analysis and record keeping and by giving professional healthcare providers the ability to support lifestyle choices for the chronically ill," Colao said.

This new effort by Vodafone comes a year after its venture capital arm made an undisclosed investment in t+ Medical, a firm specialising in the use of mobile technology to transfer patient biometric data. Vodafone's US partner, Verizon Wireless, has already launched a healthcare service as a joint-venture with Qualcomm.

In emerging economies such as India and China, in particular, Colao added that "mobile technology could reach people in under-resourced, geographically dispersed communities."

Staying with emerging markets, the CEO said that he expected African and Indian markets to continue growing in 2010, while the European sector would stabilise.

However, Colao hinted that further consolidation in the telecoms industry was likely as the technology continues to improve and develop. "Vodafone will evaluate possible options in the future," said the CEO, noting that the company has already signed network-sharing deals with other operators.

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