E-Health: Current Status and Future Trends

E-Health: Current Status and Future Trends

Virginie Felizardo (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal), Paula Sousa (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal), Daniel Sabugueiro (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal), Celina Alexandre (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal), Rafael Couto (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal), Nuno Garcia (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal & Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, Portugal) and Ivan Pires (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7266-6.ch016
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Due to higher life expectancy, the number of older people continues to increase, and with it the number of cases of chronic diseases. Estimates indicate that the percentage of people with at least one chronic disease living in modern societies can reach as much as 40%, making chronic diseases one of the major challenges for modern healthcare systems. In order to reduce healthcare costs, solutions based on information and communication technologies have emerged. The expansion of e-Health solutions is associated with the increased demand for flexible, comprehensive, and cost-effective chronic care models, and continues expanding, putting together a very comprehensive set of knowledge. This chapter presents an inclusive and widespread current state of the art of e-health solutions for chronic diseases, proposing a number of predictable future trends and scenarios.
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2. Relevance And Challenges

Health is something of common concern for everyone, as society live minded and wanting to live well as long as possible. With that in mind the delivery of high quality e-Health products is currently the main priority of each company that develops such products. Advances in e-Health solutions have shown that it is possible to get the most out of the existing technology by investing on it and creating newer and better technologies for this field. Newer and better technologies don't just refer to new products that do things a little bit better, or redefined products, but in fact, solutions that may profoundly improve the quality of treatment and broaden access to medical care.

These technologies aim to increase efficiency in health care treatments, improve quality of life, increase commitment to evidence-based medicine, empowerment of patients and consumers, and the development of new and more intimate relationships between patients and health care professionals. From a more abstract point-of-view, e-Health can be used to spread, share and relate health information through both patients and health professionals.

Nowadays there is an increasing consciousness about the importance and challenges e-Health and e-Health systems represent, being these challenges are as distinct as:

  • An aging population, which demands for a longer-term care, consecutively demanding more elaborated and more available healthcare solutions, on which the Information Technologies (IT) may provide a solution like, for example, autonomous monitoring platforms that may synchronize patient vital data with a physician in real-time, and sound an alarm at the nearest healthcare facility if anything goes wrong with the patient;

  • The rising expectations of patients from their healthcare professionals due to their access to the Internet that allows them to be better informed about their health issues by consulting and participating in health counselling forums;

  • Pressure from the governments to reduce healthcare budgets by adopting IT solutions that automate manual procedures leading to cost reductions;

  • A population that demands for better equipment conditions when hospitalized, like for example, newborn trackers, vital alarm systems, non-intrusive monitoring solutions, etc.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tele-Monitoring: Healthcare practice involving remotely monitoring of patients who are not at the same location as the health care provider.

E-Health: Healthcare practice supported by information and communication technologies and electronic processes.

Ambient Assisted Living: New area that use of information and communication technology to enable new products, services, and processes that help to provide safe, healthy, lives for the aged and for people in recovery.

Multi-Sensors Platforms: Integrated technology that enables ubiquitous presence of sensing, computing and communication capabilities and hence, enable a large number of application domains.

Chronic Diseases: Diseases that have one or more of the following characteristics: they are permanent; they produce inability or residual disability, are caused by irreversible pathological changes, require special training of the patient for rehabilitation, or may require long periods of supervision, observation or care.

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