What is eHealth?
We all talk about eHealth, yet I struggle
to define the term.
As the healthcare internet landscape shifts
to another dimension, I invite you in a debate that has the objective of
defining that landscape.
In 1995 things were easy. There were a few
1000 health-related websites. Most of these were of the
informational content variety. The giants of informational content entered
the arena and the landscape had its first change.
1996 saw the first major uplift of the
number of people who have access to the internet. It was the same year
that we saw the first attempts to set standards for health website from
the Health on the Net Foundation, the British Healthcare Internet
Association and Bill Silberg. That was followed a year later by the
formation of the Internet Healthcare Coalition.
The period 1997-1999 saw the emergence of
the venture capitalist feeding frenzy, the explosion of health websites
and the events that led to the second round of standards setting by the
'eHealth Ethics Summit' and 'Hi-Ethics' in 2000.
It was that same year that we saw the
collapse of the dot com landscape, with the most profound effect being
felt by the healthcare sector. Yet, we do not see any significant trade
associations forming that would protect and lobby for the interests of the
Amidst all this there remains a large
number of individual and voluntary group efforts to provide internet
health information of varying quality and difficult to assess impact.
What was the promise?
Was it access to high quality health
information for all? Was it the broader better health status for
Perhaps a combination, the assumption being
that better access to information will lead to better health outcomes?
Was the promise fulfilled? Is it
likely to be fulfilled?
Today, we see convergence of information
and communication technologies in general and internet technologies in
particular and health informatics.
The doctors hearts and minds, and more
importantly, their desktop real estate remain to be won and the mountains
to climb are very high and treacherous. On the whole, doctors remain
ambivalent at best and hostile at worst. You see, no one is addressing
their real needs. "Make my day easier or go away" is what many
doctors yell to deaf ears.
So, is this it? That the healthcare
internet landscape is shifting to a model of 'web informatics'?
Does 'eHealth' mean 'web health
What are the various components of eHealth?
Let me know what you think. Email me
Ahmad Risk MD
09 März 2006