eHealth represents a great opportunity to apply telecomunicative technologies to ameliorate our approach to patients.
Taking the definition given by the International Telecommunication Union, the term "eHealth" embraces all communication and information technologies that are essential for the proper functioning of the health system
It is easy to find an excessively abstract and generic character in a definition that, being the word derived from English, represents a sort of "umbrella term", able to include very wide meanings.
Wanting to dive into this subject, we are referring to a technology sector that stands out for its great concreteness and high scalability. New life-saving solutions or personalised aids aimed at improving the quality of life are the objectives of technological innovation applied to human health.
eHealth technologies at work
A concrete and tangible example of the life-saving solutions introduced by technological innovation is, for example, geolocation. Thanks to satellite tracking systems and modern smartphone apps, the intervention of rescue teams in emergency situations has become much easier and faster.
Other emergency assistance features consist of SOS Emergencies and ELS (respectively in Apple IOS and Android), these tools can play a fundamental role in critical situations, revealing themselves to be fundamental allies in saving lives.
Telemedicine security and privacy applied to the healthcare sector
Digital healthcare has many advantages, but before we can get into their full potential, we ought to build with a platform capable of ensuring maximum security in the sharing of personal health information.
Data security is obviously one of the pillars on which health services are based, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other privacy regulations are aimed at protecting sensitive data.
Encryption and other data protection technologies can help safeguard patient information which are transmitted via IoT telemedicine devices. Therefore, if you want to outline a telemedicine strategy that respects the HIPAA law, the process of storing data on a cutting-edge server, which in turn sends it to the cloud, should be expected.
IoT and artificial intelligence applied to eHealth
We have now entered the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), ultra-fast connectivity makes it possible for a diversified range of medical devices and equipment to connect to a server or cloud. The ability to have remote health care available is the result of the opportunity to find data in real time, the latter of which remains possible from digital transformation.
This opened the opportunity for patients to use wearables and/or other medical devices directly at home (for instance, blood pressure or temperature monitoring devices) and then transmit the collected data to your doctor.
This digital revolution in healthcare extends beyond the boundaries of relationships between doctors and patients, forming easier interactions among professionals: it will now be possible to insert medical records, write prescriptions and enter other data to make them easily accessible to pharmacists and other specialists.
A.I. is also bringing new capabilities to digital healthcare. Artificial intelligence can provide suggestions when reading a patient’s medical record, while also allowing you to dynamically adapt questions based on how the patients responds. Some tools that use artificial intelligence, based on personal monitoring data, can provide us with personalized reminders.
In 2021, an investment of approximately $6.6 billion in artificial intelligence is planned.1
Robots at the forefront of telemedicine hospitals
Another application could be the use of robotics in eHealth. In fact, robots can provide remote patient monitoring assistance: autonomous telemedicine robots can be directed to patients in clinics or hospital rooms, facilitating the interaction between doctors and patients remotely.
Other robots are instead able to follow doctors around, helping them in real-time data sharing with specialists remotely, thus encouraging teleconsultation between healthcare professionals.
In most cases, self-propelled telemedicine robots have battery monitoring capability and go to their charging station on their own. This removes the burden on healthcare personnel to periodically check the battery’s autonomy level, allowing them to focus on more urgent tasks.
Other robots also allow teleconsultation directly in the operating room, allowing surgeons who are physically distant to participate in the procedure.
Investments in Europe and Italy
2021 is expected to be the year in which Western Europe will reach 14 billion dollars of expenditure aimed at reinforcing software (electronic health record) and services (to the detriment of hardware investments) for eHealth.
In Italy, the Public Administration is expected to be the largest financier, leaving only 1.6% of investments to private individuals. This economic effort will be oriented to supply the hospital facilities with digital technologies, information, and communication.
Among the European countries, the United Kingdom is moving the fastest in the digital health market, while important initiatives are already planned at European level for this type of sector, such as:
- ePrescription: to electronically transmit certificates and prescriptions;
- Unique Booking Centres: created to allow people to book health services anywhere on the national territory;
- Unified Booking Centers: created to allow people to book health services anywhere in the country;
- a structural reorganisation of the assistance network more oriented towards telemedicine principles.
Each of these actions is aimed at accelerating the spread of eHealth, making it a familiar tool for practitioners, patients, and citizens alike. The goal is to enhance the quality of health care, also providing a positive boost to the productivity of the health sector.
Linari Medical Copywriter.
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