During the coronavirus crisis, some countries have leveraged the predictive power of big data to keep the global spread of the pandemic in check. This is just one of many examples of how technology can be wielded under the banner of eHealth to help care for and save millions of people around the world.
Today we live longer than yesterday but less than tomorrow. Since 1960, World Bank data tells us that life expectancy has risen by 20 years, and who knows if soon we could live to be 150? According to Gregory Stock, biophysicist and former director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at the UCLA (University of California), it could well happen. What we all know for sure is that if people are to live longer and better, we will have to rely on research and technology, the same combination that has managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT IS EHEALTH?
The healthcare sector has been flung into a digital revolution, with technology working its way into every process. The concept of digital health or eHealth emerged to designate the use of ICTs in the healthcare sector, equipping it with cutting-edge resources to ensure more efficient management and optimised diagnosis, definitely, a better patient care. This includes innovations in a whole host of areas such as doctor-patient communication, research and hospital management.
The eHealth industry is on the rise. In 2018, it saw global investments of $14.6 billion according to the Statista data portal, which means 1200 % more than in 2010. Interest in eHealth has risen among countries belonging to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with 58 % having implemented specific strategies to digitise health.
DIGITAL HEALTH SERVICES
Another of the great advantages of new technologies in the healthcare sector is how versatile they are. Here are some of the most widespread solutions they offer:
Telehealth. Providing care at a distance means people in remote areas with limited access to healthcare can get the medical attention they need. It also saves time, money and travel for both doctors and patients.
Apps. Having mobile apps dedicated to health turns our smartphones into personal trainers, sleep monitors, diagnostic, devices and more, with apps for both healthcare professionals and patients.
Serious Games. These special video games are used as a learning resource for healthcare professionals and students to enhance their training. They can also be used by people wishing to learn more about specific pathologies.
Wearable technology. The well-known term wearables, includes smart clothing and accessories such as wristbands, glasses and watches to monitor and collect information on our health and physical condition.
Augmented reality. AR can help health professionals to visualise organs in 3D, for example, or check a patient’s record in real time. It can even be used in surgical procedures with special AR headsets.
eHealth record. Having a digital health record means information can be stored in one place but be available anywhere, so patients can share it safely and healthcare staff can access it at any time.