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What is eHealth? A primer for medical students

E-health is a broad concept used in the general sense to refer to the implementation of information and communication technology(ies) in healthcare. This includes the electronic health record (EHR), as well as technologies such as telehealth and mobile apps for health (mHealth). This definition encompasses the use of the Internet in delivering or improving healthcare, as well as the implementation of technologies such as databases, machine learning, clinical decision support, et cetera.

 

This is fundamentally a definition around utility. E-health is generally not meant to define new algorithms (as in health or medical informatics), but rather the impact of those algorithms on patient care. On a more conceptual level, e-health can also be used to depict the changing environment of healthcare as an institution in the Information Age. E-health is an intersection of culture and technology – in the clinic patients will bring you data from wearable monitors such as a Holter to plug into the computer for analysis and printout, along with data derived and processed at home with “Dr. Google.” You will interact with your colleagues, perhaps through text or email, search clinical data when stumped during rounds, and input and retrieve data and orders into the EMR.

 

This definition is, as most definitions are, somewhat abstract. In short, e-health is a broad concept that refers to both the use and the development of information and communications technologies in healthcare, as well as a way of thinking and interacting in the tech-rich environment.'

The Electronic Health Record System