eHealth Technologies | The Benefits and Challenges of e-Health Applications

eHealth refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in healthcare. 
eHealth combines image exchange for HIEs and referral analytics. eHealth technologies combine intelligent health record aggregation and clinical referral coordination. 
eHealth technologies provide potential support for disease self-management, but the value of current applications is unclear to patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs). 
Key benefits of eHealth technologies may include: eHealth technologies can save a lot of time, eHealth technologies give people more information about their health. 
Using eHealth technologies, doctors can safely and easily share information with colleagues.
eHealth Technologies
E-health management components benefits and challenges. Benefits and challenges of e-health technologies - How to overcome e-health Challenges and how to make e-health easy to use and beneficial?

eHealth Technologies -The Benefits and Challenges of e-Health Applications

eHealth Technologies

The importance of health informatics is growing rapidly as it becomes an indispensable component of any national health care system. 

Health informatics has many benefits, including quantitative, qualitative, and strategic benefits to improve healthcare services.

One of the most important prerequisites for high-quality health care is the availability of high-quality information that is available to the public, patients, medical staff, and other key users, including health care planners.

At the outset, before I go deeper into the mechanisms of implementing e-health and the most important basics that build on it and the problems that can hinder the application and implementation of the concept of e-health,, I find it appropriate to clarify and define what is meant by "e-health".

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines "e-health" as "the safe and cost-effective use of ICTs and their role in supporting health and related areas, including health care services, health monitoring, health literature, education, and knowledge. 

In other words,, e-health is the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the medical and health care sectors, including educational, research and administrative areas.

Information Infrastructure for eHealth aims to “improve overall health services and provide high-quality healthcare by providing the public, patients and medical staff with the right and timely information.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Health has assumed a very big responsibility in taking advantage of this huge budget to activate and implement the concept of e-health. 

Whereas, the application and implementation of an e-health self-management system and the use of its services can only come from a holistic approach that takes into account all data of current and future needs and determines all local conditions and factors with a focus on the human factor and qualifies the current cadres to deal with the concept of e-health

eHealth technologies work through clear standards and legislation with an emphasis on ethics and through the full cooperation between the different health sectors to spread information awareness in all areas of society, especially with regard to medical informatics, in addition to building the ICT infrastructure and the necessary hardware and software.

What Are E-Health Applications?

E-health services and concept can be applied and utilized in the following areas:
  • Medical and healthcare management
  • Health education
  • Strategic health planning
  • Medical education and training
  • Patient care and support
  • Preventive health services
  • Provision of health services
  • Knowledge-based services
  • Electronic medical record
  • Telemedicine communication
  • Evidence-based medicine (EBM)
  • Epidemiological surveillance
  • Geographic information systems

WHO eHealth Resolution
WHO eHealth Resolution referred to a number of important points where the WHO's governing bodies expressed the importance of development in health information and communication systems and their effective and positive impact on the quality of health services provided. 
Here, we have highlighted some important points regarding the WHO eHealth resolution.

1. Developing a long-term strategic plan to develop and apply the concept of e-health services in various healthcare sectors, including health management, while urging private and public sectors to participate in e-health activities.

2. Working to build the infrastructure of information technology and medical communications in order to support the optimal and maximum use and activation of e-health applications. 
While continuing to work to provide communications service to reduce the cost contributes to the success of the concept of e-health.

3. Planing to reach all groups in society according to their needs through e-health services and consider building and implementing the e-Public Health Information System.

4. Working jointly with private sectors and public institutions as well as the World Health Organization and other health organizations to support and develop health services through the concept of e-health.

5. Combining the effort to work on the definition of e-health standards and work on building the formal and legal regulations and legislation for e-health practices and applications
WHO eHealth resolution helps apply and evaluate services and e-health events and how to reach the best economic practices while emphasizing safety and maintaining ethical standards and maintaining privacy, freedom, and equality.

6. Establishing a network of distinguished functional centers for best e-health applications with technical support centers.

The Benefits and Challenges of e-Health Services

 e-health services
The benefits and challenges of e-health services
What are the Benefits of e-Health Services?
There are many direct or indirect potential benefits of implementing the concept and services of e-health. Three possible benefits can be identified for the application of e-health services:

✰ Quantitative benefits are the perceived and calculated benefits of the application of e-health such as financial economic benefits.

✰ Qualitative and non-direct benefits such as improving the efficiency and quality of health services, reducing medical errors, increasing the speed of response, speed of access to information, sharing of access and use of information

✰ Strategic benefits, including data collection and utilization in research and strategic planning processes and identification of long-term needs.

It is therefore expected that the Ministry of Health will develop a strategic plan to activate and implement the concept of e-health, taking into account the basic pillars to build a strong base for the application of e-health services.

The National eHealth Strategy Toolkit
National e-health strategic plan aims to link the delivery of health services with the potential of information technology, to achieve the following:

Support the public by providing up-to-date information on health and health care.
Support patients and provide them with services related to them, in a quick and convenient manner, without disruption.
Support the employees through effective electronic communication, better management of learning, saving time with information, and facilitating access to more experience.
Improve the management and delivery of services by providing quality data to support better results through improved quality of information, medical review, and control of the management of this information.

The expected results of the eHealth strategy include improving the quality of care, and the efficiency of various processes related to the healthcare system through the use of national IT systems, which include:

Raise health awareness, personal care methods, and available health services.
Improve overall safety, and precise medical care.
Work on patient comfort, quality of care and support services to reflect the benefits of modern information technology.
Increase the absorptive capacity of the healthcare sector by introducing the necessary changes and reforms.
Enable the healthcare sector to continue to improve practical and medical practices as much as possible.

What are the Key Challenges Regarding E-Health Services?

It is worth mentioning that there are many obstacles and challenges that hinder the application of e-health services and medical informatics. Here we have mentioned 9 key challenges and issues regarding e-health services.

9 Key Challenges for eHealth
1. Lack of adequate awareness of the value of medical informatics and e-health in the development of health services.

2. The absence of a clear vision among the health institutions designated to provide health care services.

3. Lack of interest in developing the basic strategic plans appropriate to the situation of the medical institution. 
Some strategic plans are not applicable because they are not appropriate and do not take into account the needs and qualifications of available resources.

4. Inability to bear the costs of developing the infrastructure and the application of e-health services.

5. Lack of experience and lack of good and qualified human capabilities in the field of medical information.

6. Weak infrastructure, including the rehabilitation of human cadres medical and non-medical to deal with the concept of e-health and the provision of services.

7. Absence or weakness of laws and legislations, regarding the provision of e-health services.

8. Marginalizing the role of the private sector and private medical institutions.

9. Poor level of cooperation and linkage between different health sectors.

How to Overcome e-Health Challenges?
To overcome e-health challenges you can apply the following tips and techniques:

Develop a clear vision for the Ministry through a strategic plan based on data and inclusive of all current and future needs and take into account all local conditions and factors.

Focus on building qualified cadres and rehabilitation of existing cadres to deal with the concept of e-health and the provision of services.

Emphasis on the concept of electronic health file.

Provide full cooperation between all health sectors and health care providers.

Set up the standards, laws, and legislation related to e-health and ethics of the profession with emphasis on confidentiality and preservation of patient information.

 Spread information awareness among all sections of society, especially with regard to medical informatics.

There are some e-health projects that can help overcome common challenges faced by eHealth programs. The priority of e-health projects may include:

Policy development - covering a wide range of topics such as ethical and legal requirements, privacy, and confidentiality sharing protocols, data access, data acquisition, etc.

Healthcare Card - Healthcare Card is an identity card that is required to obtain public health insurance services and to introduce the national healthcare system. 
Health Card gives the cardholder the right to make concessions, such as concessions in the cost of certain medicines, medical services, and other government offerings.

Data Analysis Service - Collect data from all healthcare providers and provide that information for analysis, planning and reporting purposes.

Data Center - Store all e-health data in a safe and flexible environment.

Capacity-Building for Service Providers - such as procurement and hospital information systems, and medical/clinical information systems for primary health care.

Visual Information Sharing Strategy - The plan includes how to use the current and planned analysis of visual diagnosis, and develop a future strategy for visual sharing between the different institutions involved.

Topic: E-health management components benefits and challenges

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