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Electronic Health (eHealth)- Characteristics, Tools & Programmes

BY: Divya Narayan | Category: Healthcare | Submitted: 2014-01-30 05:52:43
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Article Summary: "Electronic Health or eHealth is the term used to refer to the usage of information and communication technology (ICT) in the field of healthcare. The first use of eHealth dates back to at least 1999..."


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WHAT IS ELECTRONIC HEALTH?

Electronic Health is also known as eHealth.

eHealth is the term used to refer to the usage of information and communication technology (ICT) in the field of healthcare. The first use of eHealth dates back to at least 1999. [1]

An ePatient is a health consumer who is actively involved in healthcare. The relationship between an ePatient and a medical practitioner is that of equals. [2]

The WHO regards eHealth to be a cost-effective and secure method of using technology in the field of healthcare for various purposes such as - [3]

  • Healthcare services
  • Health surveillance
  • Health literature
  • Health education
  • Health knowledge
  • Health research

Using mobile phones for providing healthcare services - known as mHealth - can also be regarded as part of eHealth.

As electronic technology faces danger from cybercrime, since 2011, there has been a greater awareness for increasing security and addressing privacy concerns with regards to usage of newer modes of technology in the field of healthcare.

CHARACTERISTICS OF eHEALTH - [4]

Other than "Electronic", eHealth also possesses various other characteristics, which are better known as the "10 e's of eHealth" -

1. Efficiency - Improving efficiency in healthcare services and decreasing healthcare costs

2. Enhancement in quality of healthcare - Giving rights to patients about the right to choose appropriate medical treatment and directing patients to the best medical facilities

3. Evidence-based - Type of service provided should be based on scientific evidence and evaluation

4. Empowerment - Empowering patients by increasing availability of various medical databases and records through the Internet

5. Encouragement - Improving patient-medical practitioner relationship

6. Education - Increasing education of physicians through online resources

7. Enabling exchange of information - Improving communication and exchange of information between various parties involved

8. Extension of scope of healthcare - Availability of medical resources and services for patients throughout the world

9. Ethics - Addressing ethical issues regarding eHealth such as privacy concerns and potential misuse of patient data and records

10. Equitable healthcare - Making eHealth a convenient and affordable system of healthcare for people throughout the world

TOOLS OF eHEALTH

eHealth Tool

Type of Service provided

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Systematic collection of health records and information in an electronic format. [5]

The main benefits of EHRs are - [6]

  • Improving patient care quality and convenience
  • Encouraging increased patient participation
  • Improving diagnosis of illnesses
  • Improving critical care
  • Improving medical cost effectiveness

   ♦ Improving decision-making and coordination of medical services

ePrescriptions

ePrescriptions are computer-generated prescriptions which are sent directly to pharmacy. This is the electronic replacement of a paper prescription. [7]

The main benefits of ePrescriptions are as follows - [8]

   ♦ Improved patient safety and better quality of healthcare services due to computerized prescriptions, instead of illegibly handwritten prescriptions

   ♦ Quicker administration of therapy due to reduced calling back to pharmacies

  • Improving patient convenience

   ♦ Issuing prescriptions on various electronic (paperless) devices

  • Improving drug surveillance
  • Better record-keeping of administered drugs

Telemedicine

Information related to the medical field and healthcare is conveyed through networking such as the internet or the phone, also known as "virtual medicine". The type of information transmitted - application of clinical medicine, consultation, or even medical procedures, and surgeries. [9] A subcategory of telemedicine involving exclusive use of the internet for healthcare is termed as "cybermedicine".

The main benefits of telemedicine are as follows - [10]

  • Quick provision of medical opinion

   ♦ Improved quality of medical care due to easy availability of medical advice

  • Rapid response to medical emergencies
  • Reducing patient financial costs

   ♦ Continuity of communication between patient and medical practitioner

Health Informatics

Study of various resources and methods required for management of information in the field of medicine and healthcare. This includes the study of computers and computer-based applications for healthcare management as well as the technical know-how regarding the functioning of various portable medical devices such as artificial pacemakers or glucometers. [11]

The main benefits of health informatics are as follows - [12]

  • Accuracy of stored patient information
  • Efficiency of services

   ♦ Better patient care due to decreased paper work and more time for critical decision-making for improved therapy

  • Paperless technology - eco-friendly technology

mHealth

Practice of medicine and healthcare through mobile devices (mobile phones, tablet devices, etc.) - also known as "mobile health". [13]

The main benefits of mHealth are as follows - [14]

   ♦ Availability of mobile medical helplines for gaining access for a wide range of medical services

   ♦ Disease surveillance and outbreak tracking for medical practitioners and patients

  • Remote medical support for patients

   ♦ Availability of extremely useful mobile phone and tablet apps offering a wide range of health and fitness-related services

Hospital Information System (HIS)

An integrated and comprehensive system designed for managing all aspects of the functioning of a hospital. Various specialty services of HIS include - Laboratory Information Services (LIS), Procedure Management System (PMS), Patient Information System (PIS), Radiology Information System (RIS), Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS). [15]

The main benefits of HIS are as follows - [16]

   ♦ Easy data access for medical practitioners and patients due to coordination of services

   ♦ Systematic coordination of services for patient care

   ♦ Efficient monitoring of therapy administration and effectiveness

   ♦ Integrity of services due to systematic method of working

   ♦ Elimination of human errors during medical consultation or prescription

Pharmaceutical Information Programme (PIP)

Secured system that contains computerized records of medications prescribed to a patient. This programme is used by medical practitioners for administration of appropriate drug therapy, taking into account various factors such as dosage, severity of illness, hypersensitive reactions, etc. [17]

The main benefits of PIP are as follows - [18]

   ♦ Enhancement of patient safety since drug therapy is administered after taking into account the medical history of the patient

   ♦ Helping doctors and medical practitioners make the best possible decision regarding administration of specific therapy due to available information of medical and drug history of patient

eHEALTH PROGRAMMES -

Depression and Anxiety eHealth programmes -

v FearFighter - This is an online programme for the treatment of panic attacks and phobias. It works on the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This programme helps people identify specific triggers associated with phobias and anxiety attacks and avoid them accordingly. The duration of each session of this programme lasts for about 30 minutes.

FearFighter has been tested and trialled by around 700 patients, and has also received an endorsement from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to be a clinically effective and standard method of treating anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and phobias. [19]

v Beating the Blues - This is a computerized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) programme which helps in dealing with mild to moderate forms of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, as well as issues regarding substance abuse.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK uses this particular therapy as part of its mental health treatment programme. Research also shows that computerized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programmes such as "Beating the Blues" are extremely effective in helping people deal with mental health issues by teaching them practical living and positive thinking. [20]

v Mental Health Online (formerly Anxiety Online) - This is an online mental health programme which helps in the assessment and diagnosis of various mental illnesses. It also provides self-help and therapeutic treatment for adults suffering from anxiety.

This programme is an initiative created by the National eTherapy Centre (NeCT). This programme comprises of four stages -

1. Providing information about various mental health issues and their treatment

2. Assessing the psychological state of an individual by completing an online psychological assessment programme (e-PASS) which helps in obtaining an online diagnosis of any underlying psychological illnesses, and also recommending appropriate treatment options.

3. Providing treatment choices for various types of anxiety disorders - SAD, OCD, Panic attacks, PTSD, etc.

4. Availability of treatments based on various scientific research trials, and encouraging research participation for improving methods of treatment. [21]

v This Way Up - This is an online programme which provides information related to treatment and prevention of illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

This programme has two aims -

1. Providing education about recovery from mental illnesses and conducting research related to therapy for mental illnesses

2. Training counselors, psychologists, and clinicians about the right approach to treat and cure mental illnesses [22]

Smoking Cessation -

QuitCoach - This is a personalized plan created to encourage smokers to quit smoking. Each plan is based on the responses received for a customized questionnaire which contains specific, personalized, and unique questions regarding the individual's smoking habits. [23]

Freedom From Smoking - This is a free online smoking cessation programme which lasts for a duration of seven weeks.

This programme deals with the root cause of smoking, and addresses various key issues related to nicotine addiction -

1. Stress management

2. Nicotine withdrawal

3. Weight control

4. Long-term strategies for quitting smoking [24]

mHealth Apps -

Calorie Counter - This is a mobile app that is used by dieters and weightwatchers to keep a track of the number of calories consumed. This app also provides information for various strategies related to weight loss, nutrition, health food, and physical activity. [25]

WebMD - This app provides access to information related to health such as pharmaceutical drugs (side effects and contraindications), various health conditions, symptoms of various illnesses, first aid, location of nearest physician or pharmacy or hospital, etc. [26]

My Tracks - This app is extremely useful for outdoor activity such as walking, running, cycling, etc. This app keeps track of progress of various details of physical activity such as speed, distance covered, time, and elevation. [27]

RunKeeper - This app helps measure the heart rate during physical activity, and weight loss due to burning of calories. [28]

Weight Watchers Mobile - This app helps in tracking calories consumed, physical activity, and body weight. This app also provides various tips for weight loss, as well as acts as a search tool for nutritious and healthy food. This app provides suggestions for different workout ideas for various levels of physical and fitness activity. [29]

REFERENCES -

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehealth

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-patient

[3] http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/20378/1/WHA58_28-en.pdf?ua=1

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1761894/

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_health_record

[6] http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/benefits-electronic-health-records-ehrs

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_prescribing

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_prescribing#Benefits

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemedicine

[10] http://210.212.237.165/MedicalInformatics/advantages.jsp

[11] http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/health-informatics

[12] http://hs4202.wordpress.com/whatishi/advantages/

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MHealth

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MHealth#Applications_in_the_mHealth_field

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_information_system

[16] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_information_system#Benefits_of_HIS

[17] http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/pip-faq

[18] http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/pip-brochure

[19] http://www.fearfighter.com/about-fearfighter/

[20] http://www.primarymentalhealth.org.nz/section/18449

[21] https://www.anxietyonline.org.au/pages/about-us

[22] https://thiswayup.org.au/about/

[23] http://www.quitcoach.org.au/

[24] http://www.tarrantcounty.com/ehealth/cwp/view.asp?A=763&Q=490605

[25] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.about.CalorieCount&hl=en

[26] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.webmd.android&hl=en

[27] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.maps.mytracks

[28] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fitnesskeeper.runkeeper.pro

[29] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.weightwatchers.mobile



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