What is e-health?
e-Health can be broadly described as the use of information and communications technologies in healthcare.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines e-Health as:
“...the cost-effective and secure use of information and communication technologies in support of the health and health-related fields including healthcare, health surveillance and health education, knowledge and research.”
The aim is to fully harness the benefits available through the convergence of the Internet and health care.
At first glance, the “e” in e-Health is assumed to represent the word ‘electronic’. However, ‘electronic’ is just one aspect. The true essence of the concept also encompasses 10 other e’s as enlisted by Gunther Eysenbach in an article on the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
● Enhancing Quality
Types of e-Health:
● Electronic Medical Records including patient records, clinical administration systems, archiving systems, e-prescribing, e-booking and Electronic Health Records (EHR)
● Telemedicine and telehealth services
● Consumer informatics applications such as health-oriented websites and mobile health apps
● Clinical health IT systems such as radiology, nursing health IT systems, computer-assisted diagnostics, medical imaging, and surgery training and planning systems
● Internet-based technologies and services
● Virtual healthcare
● Robotics and computer assisted surgery
● Wearable monitoring systems and health portals.
● e-Health technology for health IT support systems such as supply chain management, scheduling systems, billing systems, hospital administrative systems
Benefits of e-Health:
● Better and safer healthcare, since doctors have a more complete picture of patients’ health.
● Eliminates unnecessary duplicate tests which are wasteful and often risky.
● Life-saving information is available for care-providers during emergencies.
● Can care for individual patients, since ICT enables more informed decision making based both on evidence and patient-specific data
● Improves transparency and accountability of healthcare systems and facilitates shared care across boundaries
● Improves diagnostic accuracy and appropriacy of treatment
● Improves access to health care by eliminating barriers created by physical location or disability
● Empowers patients for self-care and for making decisions about their health
● Improves cost-efficiency by streamlining processes, bringing down waiting time and waste.
Factors Promoting the e-Health Market:
● Increasing participation of consumers in digital health outside of hospital settings
● Growing acceptance by healthcare professionals
● Proof of the effectiveness of e-Health technologies
● Cost-effectiveness of using technology
● The future of e-health
e-Health is already making a remarkable progress in its value for patients, providers, and healthcare systems. The broad field of digital health will evolve, and make a lasting global impact on healthcare.