Posted by: Nirpath
The growth of chronic diseases across aging population as well as young, middle-aged population due to lifestyle changes throws us to a challenging situation for a preventive strategy. The explosion of healthcare costs jeopardizes the sustainability of healthcare systems and adds urgency towards prevention as highest priority instead of last minute care.
But, the recent advances in communication technology and internet access opens up opportunities for innovative prevention and services around prevention in a cost effective way not only avoiding the costly hospital visits, but also giving better health.
These services can be started initially from Home and slowly penetrating to work places, but the challenge seems to be integration of heterogeneous systems and services with intuitive user interfaces to take care of different type of users from various age groups.
The young and middle-aged people could also benefit from ICT enabled health information, consulting and monitoring services as a prevention mechanism and should stay fit and healthy with lots of decision support systems around their health habits and correcting them at right time. Majority of citizens has broadband connections and feature rich communications and consumer electronics equipment, but only very limited access to e-health services. The few existing healthcare service platforms are limited to special medical conditions and proprietary devices.
The reasons for the lack of prevention and healthcare services in home networking are mainly related to technical and organizational issues. On the technical level, the integration of heterogeneous services and devices via a home platform has not yet been fully achieved. On an organization level, there is a lack of coordination between the major stakeholders in home-based prevention and healthcare service scenarios.
To implement successful service model feasibility depends on many factors like technology, standardization, interoperability as well as privacy, security and user acceptance.
Integration of technologies and devices:
This is another level of challenge that we face with lack of standards with home based devices used for prevention. The manufacturers should develop and promote open standards and guidelines that enable interoperability of health monitoring devices from different suppliers.
Standardizations in the field of e-health are not yet mature. The stakeholders should solve this by rejecting non-standard service providers.
The preventive model will largely depend on interchange of data across systems and interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) will play major role in its success.
The preventive system should also consider its mobile capabilities so that it can be used seamlessly when the patient is on move especially for patients with chronic diseases needing permanent monitoring of vital functions. The monitoring data should be collected and processed via the system platform, in order to trigger certain actions e.g. medication reminders or doctor alerts, if critical values are reached.
I hope the latest developments in EHR and HIE will open up another set of opportunities for the citizens to improve upon the service infrastructure and provide better care to new generation.