Personal Health Information in the Age of Ubiquitous Health

Personal Health Information in the Age of Ubiquitous Health

David Wiljer (University Health Network, Canada), Sara Urowitz (University Health Network, Canada) and Erin Jones (University Health Network, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-561-2.ch104
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Abstract

We have long passed through the information age into an information perfusion in health care, and new strategies for managing it are emerging. The ubiquity of health information has transformed the clinician, the public, and the patient, forever changing the landscape of health care in the shift toward consumerism and the notion of the empowered patient. This chapter explores essential issues of ubiquitous health information (UHI), beginning with its origins in the explosion of health information and the advent of new technologies. Challenges of UHI include privacy issues, change management, and the lack of basic infrastructure. However, benefits for patients include improvements in access to information, communication with providers, prescription renewals, medication tracking, and the ability to self-manage their conditions. Benefits at the organizational level include increased patient satisfaction, continuity of care, changes in costing models and improved standardization of care as organizations streamline processes to address this change in clinical practice.
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Introduction

In health care the “information age” has long passed and we have entered into the era of information perfusion. The ubiquity of health information has transformed the clinician, the public, and the patient. As technology progresses and we see exciting and innovative strategies for managing it emerge, ubiquitous health information (UHI) has brought on a tectonic shift that will forever change the landscape of health care.

This chapter explores the essential issues of UHI: the debates and controversies, the risks and benefits, and efforts that must be made to manage them. To begin, we trace the origins of UHI – the rise and explosion of several genres of health information in conjunction with the evolution of new technologies. We look at the definition and components of UHI, the types of health information that are available, and the methods for their exchange. We also explore the rise of consumerism and the notion of empowered patients within the context of ubiquitous health information.

The chapter also examines the role of UHI in the changing landscape of health care. We investigate the growing number of social, economic, cultural, ethical and legal issues, as technologies allow for the dissemination and exchange of personal health information. The impact of the perfusion of information on the public and patient is explored, as well as its impact on health professionals and the type of care delivered, and the new and alternative environments in which it is carried out. The benefits and the risks of UHI are discussed, including the educational, clinical and research opportunities. And finally, we offer a consideration of future research directions, and potential frameworks for the evaluation and assessment of UHI.

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