Continued technological innovations are helping the healthcare industry to deliver better care outcomes. Innovations in the area of electronic healthcare (eHealth) are having a positive impact on care delivery. eHealth allows application of information and communication technologies improved for healthcare delivery.
eHealth is a rapidly expanding field serving providers and consumers alike in many ways. To name a few, eHealth is used as an electronic patient administration system, laboratory and radiology information system, electronic messaging systems, monitoring system, patient management system, medical records and electronic prescribing system, etc. However, it is also important that all the key stake holders work in coordination for implementing these new, patient-centric technologies.
Growing incidence of chronic diseases, ageing population, and rising healthcare costs are regulating the global telehealth market. A report by RNCOS Business Consultancy Services predicts 18.5 per cent annual growth in telehealth worldwide through 2018, with the US outpacing the rest of the world.
eHealth encompasses the usage of power of IT, eCommerce and ePractices in healthcare systems; it can enable efficient and effective care delivery. eHealth is also termed as an important tool for governments to address issues relating to inefficient healthcare systems. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, also announced that it is planning to start an ‘eHealth service’ to build up health awareness in rural India.
The global eHealth market is estimated to grow to US $160 billion by 2015 at an average growth rate of 12-16 per cent, and the global m-health market will be worth approximately US$23 billion by 2017, according to GSMA. Issues related to cost, privacy and usage remain challenges in eHealth adoption.
Growing adoption of mobile applications is getting patients involved in the delivery of care. Sixty-nine per cent of providers use a mobile device to view patient information and 36 per cent use mobile technologies to collect data at the bedside, according to HIMSS survey of 170 individuals.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region for healthcare information technology (healthcare IT) solutions. With changing demographic factors and favourable government policies and legislations, advanced IT tools are entering the market.
In the cover story for this issue, Stephen Chu, Adjunct Professor, Multi-Media University, Malaysia opines that while health information technologies offer considerable administrative efficiency gains and cost-savings, empirical evidences available so far indicate that any clinical costsavings realised from health IT systems adoption are likely to be marginal. Stephen suggests that Health IT should be used as strategic and quality improvement tools, and not directed at clinical cost cutting.