The World Health Organisation defines eHealth "the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health. The eHealth unit works with partners at the global, regional and country level to promote and strengthen the use of ICT in health development, from applications in the field to global governance".
eHealth focuses on the use of information technology to collect patient data and deliver this information to clinicians. The use of eHealth technology has become prevalent in developing economies, where individuals, particularly in rural communities are more likely to have access to mobile phones and other technology, but to care facilities and local healthcare provision. In areas of Africa, the number of doctors per patient can be less than 1 to 10000 and with 5 billion phones in the world, the potential benefits of self-care via mobile devices are abundant.
Examples of eHealth Companies:
"We built Ava because we believe that women deserve a more modern method of tracking their fertility. They deserve accurate, reliable data about when they’re ovulating, delivered in a way that’s convenient and non-invasive. Most of all, women and men both deserve to enjoy the baby-making process in as carefree a way as possible."
"Mobile-enabled digital medical / healthcare / e-Health service providing easy & convenient direct access to doctors, nurses & specialists."
The Future of for eHealth
One of the biggest challenges for eHealth is the question of data misuse and patient privacy. Data leaking and sharing scandals have become a staple side-effect of the 21st digital revolution. The app builders have direct access to patient data, while in a physical hospital setting this would be subject to confidentiality, however, there are concerns that this is susceptible to misuse. App developers can also face challenges from the regulatory side.
Regulatory bodies (such as the HIPPA) have prevented developers, in certain cases from developing apps that can directly solve patient-specific issues. As healthcare systems face an unprecedented demand for their services, eHealth can be part of the
21st-century response. But there are clear challenges that need to be discussed if it is to become a solution.
eHealth has an important part to play in meeting the healthcare challenges of the 21st century. To meet the innovators making this happen, check out our DigiHealth Leaders event, taking place later in the year!