Chances and speed bumps eHealth

Dutch healthcare seems to be well organized, but still many things can improve. Patient safety level, focus on patient oriented care and the overall costs are examples of current targets. The implementation of ICT and eHealth can realize improvements! In the Netherlands 4,5 million people live with 1 or more chronic diseases. (source: Landelijk Informatie Netwerk Huisartsenzorg 2003-2007).

For some years now eHealth holds great promise, but a widespread application in the healthcare system is not yet there. Why is that?

First, let’s discuss why eHealth holds great promise. There are great advantages of eHealth implementation because it will shift the control of wellbeing and care to the patient. The patient or the healthy citizen will get more options to ensure their own wellbeing. An example is telemonitoring by patients with cardiac failure: this results in less readmissions, less visits to the emergency department and less uncertainties for patients.

With eHealth technology, caregivers have the right information at the right time and place. This is essential to provide high quality and effective care. There is a catch thought; if the technological changes are not synchronized with the organizational changes it will not reach the expected benefits.

EHealth makes it easier to exchange information with the care professional. This ensures the continuity of a care process. One can control the care objectives and customize the care to better fit the objectives.

EHealth makes healthcare more accessible. Video conferencing with a doctor is much easier and quicker than a normal appointment. Of course there has to be an opportunity to visit the physician, but how easy it is just to video conference from your own home.

Maybe the most important advantage is that eHealth empowers people to control their own health and healthcare. This is also an element of the Chronic Care Model (CCM) which is the international standard for chronic healthcare.

So one might wonder: why is eHealth not yet widely spread within the healthcare? There are several different speed bumps in the road for the implementation of eHealth. Privacy is a big issue; only the right people can have access to the relevant information. Many physicians are worried about the doctor-patient relation. Another bottleneck is the interoperability of different information systems used within the same organizations and between different organizations.

Healthcare budgets are under pressure and I believe that eHealth is the solution if correctly implemented!


Author: Indy Kavelaars

Sources: Landelijk Informatie Netwerk Huisartsenzorg & NYFER

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