Every year there appear, more or less constantly, articles and posts on blogs or social networks talking about “digital health” or “digital transformation in health”, mentioning technological buzzwords such as Blockchain, Internet of Things ( IoT), Big Data, Machine Learning, or Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In all this frenzy of digital healthcare technologies and their potential health applications, there is also a lot of confusion as to what we label as ” digital health ”because it is not true that any technology that is used in the field of health already counts as ” digital health ” or ” e-health ”.
Taking as a reference several scientific publications extracted from Pubmed (articles of 2016, 2017, 2018 I and II) as well as the WHO definition itself, digital health is defined, in its most basic and general way, as ” the use of information and communication technologies to improve health and related fields.”
As new technologies appear every year that fall within this definition, it is constantly being expanded a little more to cover this changing reality.
Digital health includes:
- The merging digital technologies with health, digital healthcare, life and society to improve its efficiency toward healthcare.
- Digital technologies that make medicines more personalized and precise.
- Use of information and communication technologies to help address health problems and challenges faced by people under treatment.
- Development of interconnected health systems to improve the use of computational technologies, smart devices, computational analysis techniques and communication media to help health professionals and their clients control diseases and health risks, as well as promote health and wellness.
This definition will evolve along with digital technologies, but it will always be a discipline in which one or more digital tools intervene in the diagnosis, management, prediction or prevention of disease.
Differences between eHealth and digital health
The terms eHealth and eHealth are often used interchangeably, but their interpretations are very different. eHealth is a healthcare practice supported by the use of information and communication technology in the healthcare digital transformation sector. While EHealth covers much of medical informatics, it prioritizes promoting the use of ICT in health development and doing so in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Digital health is an evolutionary adaptation of the art and science of medicine to ubiquitous information and communication technology (ICT). It is a collective term for a variety of technologies that can meet healthcare challenges.
EHealth is a way to provide quality care to more and more people, make it cost-effective and efficient, and provide care in an accessible and user-driven way. The aim is to use information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare systems so that healthcare providers can work more efficiently. Digital health is a way to reach all health consumers around the world through digital channels. The goal is to implement and leverage ICT to provide and expand healthcare to the masses.
eHealth tools are more than just technical solutions for digital healthcare professionals and doctors. However, they mention the tools that citizens use to manage their health and the devices that facilitate home care for patients through remote monitoring and assistance. eHealth tools include products, systems, and services that go beyond simple Internet-based applications. Examples include electronic medical records, medical information networks, telemedicine services, and health portals. Digital health tools are technologies that serve consumers and patients and help them manage their health and wellness. Examples of such technologies include applications, telemedicine, electronic medical records, “connected medicine”, and “smart homes“.
According to this analysis is that e-health initiatives do not originate from the patient, as is the case with digital health, and that the categories within e-health are more related to the computerized treatment of health information.