Professional Practices for Digital Healthcare

Professional Practices for Digital Healthcare

Sisira Edirippulige (Centre for Online Health, The University of Queensland, Australia) and Buddhika Senanayake (Centre for Online Health, The University of Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3274-4.ch006

Abstract

Digital health is quickly becoming an integral part of healthcare services. Research evidence suggests that digital health can benefit stakeholders involved in healthcare including patients and care providers. As digital health continues to integrate into routine healthcare, practitioners may require new knowledge, skills, and competencies to make the best use of it and to be able to communicate with an increasingly digitally enabled consumer. While much effort has been made to systematic education and training relating to digital health, which is an important aspect in developing the digital health workforce, it is important that governments and health systems consider digital health education and training as an important element in the process of implementing digital health within health services. Digital health education must be given its due recognition and support so that the future heath workforce has an opportunity to develop required knowledge and skills relating to digital health.
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Introduction

Digital health is growing. The intentions of digital health include providing administrative advantage (e.g. to improve efficiency, and reduce costs through digitisation); clinical advantage (e.g. electronic prescribing to improve patient safety, electronic health records (EHR) to facilitate sharing amongst practitioners); to overcome impediments to service delivery (e.g. remote consultation, or remote-access to medical imaging); and to help patients to self-manage their health (e.g. apps for monitoring chronic conditions, or sharing information amongst providers using a personally-controlled EHR) (Sandhu, 2020; Greenes & Shortliffe, 1990).

There is a strong rationale for seeking alternative methods for delivering healthcare using innovative technologies (Hadeel & Sandhu, 2021; Sandhu, 2020; Venkatesh & Davis, 2000; & Davis, 1989). Traditional business models and infrastructure of healthcare organisations are ill-equipped to sufficiently adapt to, or finance, the global health trends of aging populations, declining birth rates, increasing non-communicable chronic disease, poverty, migration and increasing rates of infectious disease. These factors all impose significant logistical and financial hardships for those striving to provide ubiquitous effective and ethical healthcare. The digital transformation of healthcare with information communication technology provides one avenue to better enable patient centred care. Although digital health is growing rapidly in the healthcare industry the education and training component plays a critical role to uplift the future uptake of digital innovation. This chapter explores the current evidence regarding education and training for digital health and discovers the potentials to strengthen digital health in the field of learning and training.

While digital health is not new, advances in technology, in particular, the availability of mobile devices and ubiquitous connectivity, means that services are no longer physically limited to a health facility, or limited only to clinicians (McConalogue, Davis, & Connolly, 2019). Modern healthcare systems increasingly comprise digital hospitals providing services to digital health-consumers. Many governments and health systems have made attempts to introduce telehealth services, a few of which have become large and well-integrated, such as the Ontario Telemedicine Network in Canada (Edirippulige & Armfield, 2017) and Veteran’s Affairs Telehealth in the USA (Kampmeijer, Pavlova, Tambor, Golinowska, & Groot, 2016). The interest in telehealth to improve healthcare services is global. A number of European countries have implemented various telehealth projects; and some countries have conducted large research studies to establish an evidence base (Dattakumar, Gray, Henderson, Maeder, & Chenery, 2012; Marschang, 2014). Global organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been promoting telehealth, particularly in low and middle income countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin as a new way to address critical health challenges (Gray, Dattakumar, Maeder, Butler-Henderson, & Chenery, 2014; Smith, 2011).

Some governments have made important policy changes to encourage and incentivise the use of digital health. For example, the Australian federal government introduced reimbursement for certain video-based consultations involving general practitioners, specialists, Aboriginal health workers, nurse practitioners and midwives (Bryant, 2014). In the USA, forty-six states, and Washington DC provide reimbursement for some video-based consultations under their Medicaid programs which supports the healthcare costs of those on low incomes and those living with certain disabilities (Lannan, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Health Informatics: The interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption, and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management, and planning.

Electronic Health Record: Is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. It is real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users.

MHealth: Medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.

Telehealth: Use of telecommunication techniques for the purpose of providing telemedicine, medical education, and health education over a distance.

Health System: All activities whose primary purpose is to promote, restore, and maintain health.

Telemedicine: The delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of healthcare providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.

EHealth: The use of information and communications technology in support of health and health-related fields.

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