The eHealth Arena and Online Virtual Worlds: A New Paradigm for Internet Delivered Health Care

The eHealth Arena and Online Virtual Worlds: A New Paradigm for Internet Delivered Health Care

Jacquelyn Ford Morie (All These Worlds, LLC, Los Angeles, CA, USA) and Eric Chance (All These Worlds, LLC, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2013070103
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Virtual Worlds, a recent addition to Internet offerings, are connected social spaces that have geographies and are populated by people using avatar representations. These spaces hold a great deal of promise as part of a future portfolio of eHealth offerings. Utilizing virtual worlds, health care can be widely distributed and accessible via the Internet. They have particular affordances that lend themselves to achieving and supporting many types of health care. This paper describes some of the current applications that use virtual worlds as part of eHealth care, as well as future research that will factor into the way these activities develop. These examples are paving the way for virtual worlds to be part of the way people access health care in the future.
Article Preview

Current Forms Of Ehealth Care

A defining characteristic of eHealth care is that a participant can access services from their home or other place where they use the Internet. The current primary eHealth functions include video conferences between a physician and their patient, web sites devoted to information and reference materials, and support groups linked to each other through social media. These modalities are differentiated from other forms of care delivered via computers that are not typically delivered online. For examples of these, we note computer-based activities such as rehabilitation games that must be done in an outpatient clinic (Kato, 2010, 2012; Lange et al., 2009), or complex health interventions such as Graduated Exposure Therapies provided by a Virtual Reality simulation that must be monitored and controlled by a therapist (Gerardi et al., 2008; Gerardi et al., 2010; Rizzo et al., 2010). Even though extremely beneficial and in growing use, these activities are not included within the scope of this paper.

Oh, et al. (2005) state that not only is today’s eHealth technology considered a tool in and of itself, it is generally considered a helpful expansion for the human-to-human connection, not as a replacement for this interaction. Eisenbach (2001) goes even further in describing eHealth as “a state-of-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve health care locally, regionally, and worldwide by using information and communication technology.”

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Open Access Articles
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2021): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2020): 3 Released, 1 Forthcoming
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2010)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2009)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing