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What is eHealth - The benefits & challenges

What is an eHealth system?

Before we dive into the benefits and challenges of an eHealth system let's look at a definition:

According to the World Health Organisation, there are three main core areas of eHealth these are:

  1. Delivery of health information, for health professionals and health consumers, through the Internet and telecommunications.
  2. Using the power of IT and e-commerce to improve public health services, e.g. through the education and training of health workers.
  3. The use of e-commerce and e-business practices in health systems management.

So to put it simply, eHealth is the transfer of health resources and health care by electronic means. It is healthcare supported by electronics, informatics and tele-communications. It can be defined as the delivery of health care using modern electronic information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices. The term eHealth also illustrates the technical progress to expand healthcare locally, countywide and globally by using information and communication technology.

eHealth also encompasses all sorts of electronic health data exchange such as Telemedicine; The use of telecommunication and information technology for the purpose of providing remote health assessments and therapeutic interventions and also Telehealth; The delivery of health care, health education, and health information services via remote technologies.

Technological commitments are also characterised as eHealth, with it being deemed a cost-effective method of providing health services to people. There are lots of examples of eHealth which include communication with health care professionals via email, mobile technology, information management, accessing medical records, research health information, etc.

What are the advantages of developing an eHealth system?

  1. Health Care Systems- optimize resource use (quality – cost-effectiveness)
  2. Facilitate better decision-making.
  3. Information and data: Increased accessibility, availability, Speed
  4. Impact on Professionals: optimize performance (accuracy, knowledge expertise)
  5. Helpful in evaluating essential data of patient’s identity and medical history.

Over recent years the healthcare sector has been flung into a digital revolution, with technology working its way into every process. The concept of eHealth emerged to designate the use of ICTs in the healthcare sector, equipping it with cutting-edge resources to ensure more efficient management and optimisation of diagnosis and better patient care. This includes innovations in a whole host of areas such as doctor-patient communication, research and hospital information management.

eHealth has great potential to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare, with governments and healthcare organisations investing more money in e-health systems globally year on year.

Digital transformation-bro<a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/digital-transformation-concept-illustration_23672959.htm#query=it&position=45&from_view=author">Image by storyset</a> on Freepik

What are the Challenges of implementing an eHealth system?

Attempts to integrate new technologies into standard clinical practice are frequently described in the literature as challenging and futile. The absence of uniformity is one of the main data difficulties facing healthcare information management. The information must be standardised across all systems in order for it to be properly maintained and accessed by clinical staff. Due to the fact that many hospitals use various data storage methods, outdated intranets systems and different formats, it is regrettably not always simple to accomplish this. Setting up consistent standards for data and information management and sharing is the best method to address this difficulty. 

Fragmentation is a significant obstacle to the integration of healthcare. Fragmented systems develop when various organisational components work independently of one another, which prevents coordination and communication; such as in the various departments in a hospital. Duplicate data entry, outdated guidance sharing, and trouble exchanging information between departments are just a few issues that might result from this. The best method to deal with this difficulty is to create an all-encompassing IT strategy that covers all facets. This will make it easier to make sure that all systems are collaborating to achieve common goals and objectives. For example, a Hospital and Department focused Information Management tool

The absence of staff resources is another significant issue with healthcare integration. You need individuals who are knowledgeable in both IT and healthcare to combine and manage various platforms. Since the majority of people have specialised knowledge in one or the other, it is regrettably not always simple to find. Investing in training and development programmes that will assist your staff in becoming knowledgeable in both IT and healthcare technologies could best way to tackle this difficulty...but who has the time for that in healthcare? Simplifying the technology that supports professionals can easily help in overcoming this barrier. 

People, healthcare systems, and the economy will undoubtedly stand to gain from the transformation of digital healthcare.  Artificial intelligence, 5G mobile communication, and supercomputing are a few examples of digital technologies that present new chances to change how we receive, manage and deliver healthcare services. They make it possible for cutting-edge methods, such as AI in healthcare and the use of Machine Learning (ML) as well as other cognitive disciplines for medical diagnosis purposes. There are also applications for natural language processing (NLP) that can comprehend and categorise clinical documentation. Unstructured clinical notes can be analysed by NLP systems, providing a wealth of knowledge that can be used to enhance procedures, comprehend quality, and provide better outcomes for patients.

So.. is eHealth on your agenda now you know what it is...

In need of support with your Hospital, Department or practice eHealth, such as managing Clinical Guidelines, Education and Information - Then talk to us about MyMedical our Health Information Management system.