Information on Digital Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Digital Health is a “field of knowledge and practice associated with the development and use of digital technologies to improve health, from inception to operation”.1 In other words, Digital health is defined as the use of communication and information technologies in healthcare to manage medical conditions and health risks and improve people’s well-being. It has a broad scope and includes wearables, mobile health (mHealth), eHealth, telecare, telemedicine, health technology, bioinformatics, medical informatics, and telehealth. These have already become an integral part of the healthcare in developing world, and their practice in medicine is projected to evolve. 2

 

In recent decades, the classic facilities of healthcare provision, such as hospitals and outpatient clinics, have been facing challenges in fulfilling the medical needs of an aging population, the increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions and an associated growing demand for medical care. 3 Whereas, electronic health records and the application of big data in healthcare can help to aggregate and analyze the ever-growing volume of medical data. This will facilitate and accelerate biomedical research, which in turn will significantly save healthcare expenditures since the allocated resources will be tailored to the population’s needs. Moreover, the use of big data will help to develop new treatment strategies.4

 

Another fact that creates a demand for healthcare digitalization is the lack of medical personnel and the unavailability of certain medical services in rural areas. However, with the help of telemedicine, patients can receive high-quality healthcare regardless of their location.5

 

The new COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the availability of timely medical care. However, the popularization of telemedicine helped to contact and provide assistance to infected patients who were in quarantine. The same applies during natural disasters. The availability of telemedicine in the affected regions can help assess the scale of the disaster and quickly analyze the victims.3

 

In summary, the digital transformation of healthcare has a vast potential to 2,3, 6, 7

  • Improve quality and accessibility of health care
  • Improve delivery, administration, and management of health care
  • Improve the cost-efficacy of health care
  • Increase the quality of healthcare research and education
  • Raise health awareness among the general population
  • Offer a more personalized healthcare
  • Reduce the risks of corruption in the field

 

Nevertheless, as digital health advances, it also raises challenges and concerns for the general population and policymakers. This includes cybersecurity concerns, the availability of medical data to third parties, and the uncontrolled transmission of health-related misinformation on medical websites, some of which are even run by people without a medical background.

 

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