eHealth: benefits, challenges, and the impact on patients and providers

eHealth is the wide range of health care activities involving the electronic transfer of health-related information on the Internet and associated technologies. The use of technology in healthcare improves patient safety, reduces patient hospital visits, saves time of the healthcare professional, and supports individuals to look after themselves. Many studies have proven the vast benefits of eHealth technologies, but many organizations are slow to implement. This is partly due to inefficiencies within an organization’s infrastructure and lack of adequate resources. Implementing effective technologies is often difficult; keeping in mind the complexity revolving around the privacy and security concerns of healthcare consumers. Planning and performing needs assessments are critical and vital to successful outcomes. Although standards have been developed and implemented for formatting health data, organizations still face many issues when implementing interfaces between data systems. eHealth, with its intention of saving time and improving patient safety, still is challenged by the diversity of all consumers of healthcare. There are those who are information literate, with access to online resources, who take an active role in their healthcare. Additionally, there are those consumers who have no access to online information and no knowledge of how to obtain health information. This continues to be a need to promote equity in healthcare services and information access. Learning to access healthcare information will empower each and every healthcare consumer to take control of managing his or her personal health issues. With the known benefits of eHealth and the possibilities of managing one’s own healthcare data, consumers’ expectations of improved accessibility to their health information will drive organizations to enhance their implementation of eHealth technologies.

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