E-Health and Ensuring Quality

E-Health and Ensuring Quality

Prajesh Chhanabhai (University of Otago, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-050-9.ch150
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The Internet is one of the most utilized resources for obtaining information, learning, communication, and as a source of advice. The most sought after advice and information are related with health matters. In the United States, for example, over 16 million people per year visit WebMD (http:// my.webmd.com/webmd_today/home/default), an online portal dedicated to providing health information and services (Sass, 2003). Health information on the Internet has grown exponentially, with up to 88 million adults predicted to access medical information online in 2005 (Ansani et al., 2005). This merging of medical knowledge and information knowledge has given birth to e-health. Despite the growth and application of information and communications technology (ICT) in health care over the last 15 years, e-health is a relatively new concept, with the term being introduced in the year 2000 (Pagliari et al., 2005). Its use has grown exponentially, and as Pagliari et al. (2005) reported, there are over 320,000 publications addressing e-health listed in MEDLINE alone. However, there is still no clear definition of e-health. There have been two international calls, in 2001 and 2004, for a clear and concise definition of e-health, but both failed to produce an internationally acceptable definition. In the same paper, Pagliari et al. (2005) found 24 different definitions, highlighting the fact that this is a gray area. Hence, without a clear and standardized definition, the opportunities to conduct unethical behavior are made easier.

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