E-HEALTH’S POTENTIAL TO DELIVER BETTER HEALTHCARE
Potential benefits of e-health are numerous, for both patient and care provider. A clear illustration of this is use of e-health solutions, notably mobile applications, for managing chronic diseases. In France, Ahmed B., who suffers from Crohn’s disease, uses one such smartphone app to communicate with his doctor about his condition.
BENEFITS FOR PATIENTS
In Ahmed’s case, his mobile app allows him to actively participate in his care. Given access to disease and treatment information online, he can self-monitor and track his own health. Additionally, he can communicate with his physician so they can manage flare-ups of his condition as a team. It’s this approach to treatment that can encourage patients to follow through with treatments, return for follow-up appointments and generally have better outcomes.
For patients that are isolated, in rural areas, or encountering lengthy wait times for specialist appointments, e-health programmes also have the potential to fill in the gaps by giving patients new ways to receive care, and foster patient-doctor communication.
BENEFITS FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS AND SYSTEMS
With e-health tools, healthcare professionals have better access to patient information and a greaterfeeling for context. Research shows that use of tablets and other mobile devices could save professionals up to 30% of their time spent accessing and analysing information, which helps them in turn to improve diagnosis and treatment plans. “That constant online contact really helps from a medical viewpoint if the disease flares up,” says Dr. Laurent Peyrin-Biroulet. “The patient can contact us as soon as things go wrong.”
Finally, e-health has the potential to create powerful new synergies in healthcare systems, to improve processes by taking out unnecessary steps, and can lead to new organizational methods, strengthening systems and reducing costs. In fact, Price Waterhouse Coopers estimates that adopting m-health prevention and monitoring initiatives, which fall under the e-health umbrella, could save up to €99 billion in 2017.
Governments, hospital systems and healthcare providers agree that e-health has great potential. This is why the WHO is actively working to improve implementation of e-health frameworks around the globe in both industrialised and developing countries.
European Commission, Green Paper on mobile health “mhealth”, 10/04/2014. P. 5.
European Commission, Green Paper on mobile health “mhealth”, 10/04/2014. Pp 6-7.
Telemedicine: Opportunities and developments in member states, World Health Organization, 2010
PriceWaterhouseCoopers – Socio-economic impact of M-Health: an assessment for the European Union, 2013, p.20.
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.