Access to affordable, resourceful, and effective health care is one of the major concerns for people across the globe. However, in today’s world, the advancements in IT have transformed almost all sectors including healthcare and the major innovation in eHealth. Today, the majority of people use online portals for shopping, travel bookings, banking, entertainment bookings, and even dating. The use of the internet and smartphones has increased and is on the rise as people have realized that digitization makes lives easier and faster. Similarly, accelerating digitization in the healthcare industry has its benefits.
eHealth offers a way of communication and better connectivity between people and healthcare professionals. Such eHealth solutions have the power to revolutionize traditional medicine through patient-centric and data-driven healthcare. More and more countries are now aiming to transform healthcare toward a digital approach.
According to Allied Market Research, the global eHealth market is expected to reach $230.64 by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 14.5% from 2020 to 2027. Rise in government initiatives to support eHealth solutions, increase in chronic diseases, and growing need to manage regulatory compliance through the use of eHealth solutions drive the growth of the market.
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What is eHealth?
eHealth is the most fruitful use of digital technology, the internet, healthcare administrative and clinical processes, and social media. With the use of eHealth technology, a person’s health records are automated and several devices such as smartphones, netbooks, laptops, and personal digital assistants are connected to a healthcare setting. In the past few years, it has evolved much more than the mere concept of health informatics.
With detailed information about a patient’s illness, doctors could build a reliable medical history. With the use of eHealth and by digitizing personal health information, better medical history can be developed. Moreover, electronic records can be easily shared with other doctors. Patients are equipped with their The eHealth industry aims for electronic records and offers the eHealth industry aims them a chance to book appointments with doctors. The benefits of eHealth care are limitless and they all converge to improve chronic health management.
Denmark has effectively leveraged the benefits of eHealth. Every citizen has a personal webpage where users can log in confidentially and monitor their treatment and diagnoses. Moreover, users can make appointments with their physicians, keep track of medication, and order medication from pharmacies. Some of the eHealth solutions are widely used across the globe:
- Electronic health records systems (EHR): It compiles patient’s health records into a digital format to make the information available to both patients and doctors whenever and wherever they want.
- Telemedicine: This eHealth solution offers patients 24×7 medical care from remote doctors through videos, telephone calls, or robotic technologies. Telemedicine helps overcome barriers in the ICU and home care settings and offers a sound opinion of a specialist.
- Remote monitoring: This technology has allowed doctors and other healthcare professionals to monitor their patient’s vital signs, scores remotely. Moreover, it offers closer medical supervision of patients struggling with chronic illnesses.
- mHealth: Mobile health offers informative health-related recommendations through smartphones and the use of computers or tablets. Such mobile applications help patients keep track of their health and alert hospitals in case of emergency.
While eHealth offers new opportunities to improve health management, there are some challenges to adopt the technology. Insufficient funds to support and develop the electronic system that supports eHealth is one of the major challenges across the world. Inadequate infrastructure, lack of awareness about benefits of eHealth among patients, and dearth of reliable, fast internet connectivity restrict from leveraging complete benefits of eHealth.
The only key to all such challenges is to treat eHealth as one of the instrumental parts of health planning and training both doctors and patients on how to use eHealth systems
Future of eHealth
The use of electronic health records and ePrescription has already increased and would continue to rise in the future. These systems rely on interoperable digital systems to allow the exchange of health operations and in the future, such information would travel across the border to improve healthcare management. This will allow citizens of the U.S. who have traveled to India for a holiday to get all healthcare documents and prescriptions of medication at the Indian pharmacy. Moreover, this will benefit the medical tourism industry as well.
The use of artificial intelligence and robotics will increase in the future. Although fully autonomous robots operating on humans are still a distant future, the use of robotics parts to assist healthcare professionals has already increased. For instance, doctors have been using robotic arms to treat patients by offering additional support to move and manipulate limbs.
The aim of the eHealth industry is to make healthcare facilities more accessible to patients irrespective of their location and time. In the future, digital health technologies would focus on bringing healthcare services close to patients. For instance, currently, in hospitals, emergency rooms are allotted according to the health of the patient and their urgency of care. With the use of eHealth, patients could provide their symptoms through an application that can be digitally assessed and the patient can be allotted to different levels of priority. On the other hand, instead of traveling a few miles just to see doctors ask a few questions, patients can use digital means at home and make benefit from telemedicine technology and interact with doctors and receive ePrescription at home.
mHealth technology can keep track of user’s vital signs and monitor irregularities. This way, users can get a doctor’s opinion before their diseases progress. This will help improve diagnoses and minimize the death rate due to medical negligence. The Covid-19 pandemic has already proven to be favorable to the adoption of eHealth technology as the majority of the clinics were operating at a low capacity and major surgeries and operations were postponed. During the pandemic, doctors and patients used mHealth applications to stay in touch with doctors and take better care of their health. However, all these technologies are based on interoperability and strong internet connection. Thus, in the future, internet penetration would increase to minimize the distance between doctors and patients.
Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel and daydream about her areas of interest.