E-health is defined by the World Health Organization as « digital services for the well-being of the person ».²
It allows the use of tools for the production, transmission, management and sharing of digitized information for the benefit of medical and medico-social practices
Therefore, e-health encompasses all digital applications for the provision of care, knowing that the computerization of the healthcare system concerns hospital information systems as well as software for the management of the medical service.
Connected health applications and objects are now indispensable tools for patient management. They support and strengthen the relationship between the patient and the physician.
Sustainability of e-health and its full integration into health systems require the deﬁnition of good practice internationally, promoting a regulation at least at the regional level, the continuation of its scientific evaluation and the preservation of ethics.
Extending the e-health field
Nowadays, e-health has become a generic term that encompasses domains as varied as telemedicine, prevention, home care, monitoring of chronic disease at a distance (diabetes, hypertension, cardiac insufficiency, etc.) , electronic medical records or applications and home automation, even through the creation of intelligent textiles.
E-health is a solution that combines the efficiency of care in controlling health expenditure. However, its generalization implies defining a legal and practical framework that responds to the major challenges of twenty-first century medicine.
These include the protection of privacy and confidentiality of patients’ personal data, the management and deployment of standardized technical solutions, the digital switchover of current health services, the accountability and training of practitioners and awareness of patients.
In a difficult economic context, digital technologies, still underused in the medical sector, have real potential for improving efficiency, quality and safety of health systems.
Preliminary and objective imperative
The implementation of e-health necessarily involves profound organizational changes for health services and for health professionals in general. The use of the digital tool represents a profound change in work habits and processes.
Awareness and training of professionals on new tools and applications that dematerialize procedures and supports are essential prerequisites. One of the interests of digital is also to make the practitioner fully autonomous. The latter can focus on its core business, with ancillary tasks that can be supported by « smart » applications.
The objective of e-health is two-fold: improve the quality of care and the State of health in general and be a source of structural savings and economic gains.
The release of information
To this dual objective, it is necessary to add that e-health allows the release of information (centered on the patient) of its physical support, thus paving the way for the establishment of a virtual patient record. This information can be shared between different practitioners and disciplines.
In this way, it develops the participation of the patient who is more closely associated with his follow-up and care (what is called « compliance »). Indeed, technology must facilitate and streamline access to care while making effective personalized care for prevention or medical care.
The smartphone, tablet or computer are now listening to the human body.
e-health, m-health, telehealth, telemedicine
What are the differences between these disciplines, all related to the advent of digital in the medical sphere ?
– e-health : this will mainly concern the information systems of the digital hospital, the information systems of the clinics as well as the computerized medical records.
– Telehealth : It will concern e-health services, information, training, serious games.
– m-health (for mobile health): It will concern connected objects, sensors and other intelligent textiles.
– Telemedicine : This will concern telemonitoring, the connected home and home automation.
A growth market
The contribution of technology to the health field represents a win-win deal for physicians, patients and health services.
If the global healthcare market in the world is close to $ 10 trillion, e-health already represented $ 46 billion in 2015 and has been growing since.
Pioneers in this market, GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and Microsoft have already invested several tens of billions of dollars in this emerging market.
Microsoft essentially supports data storage and analysis on ultra-powerful, remotely searchable servers.
Apple launched the first health applications on Iphone in 2007.
The Google Ventures investment fund invests in innovative start-ups and research and development centers.
Many alliances have been formed with global medical groups.
The French Touch
Since 2016, the French ecosystem has seen MedTech actors perform spectacular fundraisers. To date, more than 100 French start-ups are developing tools to digitize one or more bricks in the patient care pathway.
AMedSU – Applications for Medical and Surgical Use, a member of French Tech which is a party to it.