Smart Health – A New Form of Healthcare
New technologies have influenced many parts of our daily life. Today’s healthcare system has also recognized the advantages of using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the quality of healthcare, turning traditional into smart healthcare. According to Blue Stream Consultancy, “smart healthcare is defined by the technology that leads to better diagnostic tools, better treatment for patients, and devices that improve the quality of life for anyone and everyone.” The key concept of smart health includes eHealth and mHealth services, electronic record management, smart home services and intelligent and connected medical devices.
eHealth – Using ICT for Better Healthcare
As mentioned above, one of the key concepts for improving today’s healthcare is eHealth, i.e. the usage of ICT in care. This is also how the World Health Organization defines the term: “eHealth is the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for health. Examples include treating patients, conducting research, educating the health workforce, tracking diseases and monitoring public health.”
The European Union extends this definition by adding that eHealth “can benefit the entire community by improving access to care and quality of care and by making the health sector more efficient. This includes information and data sharing between patients and health service providers, hospitals, health professionals and health information network; electronic health records; telemedicine services; portable patient-monitoring devices, operating room scheduling software, robotized surgery and blue-sky research on the virtual physiological human.” The goal of the EU concerning eHealth is improvement of EU residents’ health by using eHealth tools that provide instrumental information between countries when needed. To guarantee this improvement, the EU wants to enhance these eHealth tools and make them more effective, user-friendly and widely accepted by patients and professionals. Moreover, the EU aims at increasing the quality of healthcare and enabling better access to healthcare by making eHealth part of health policy.
mHealth – Making Healthcare more Mobile
The term mHealth is short for mobile health. This terms has been defined by the WHO as “a component of eHealth”. Since there is no standardized definition of mHealth, the Global Observatory of eHealth (GOe) has determined mHealth as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.” Mobile phones and other devices are used to support patients and improve healthcare. Besides using mobile phones to make calls and sent text messages, mHealth also includes more complex features and applications such as general packet radio service (GPRS), third and fourth generation mobile telecommunications (3G and 4G systems), GPS and Bluetooth technology.
AAL – Tackling Challenges of an Ageing Society
As life expectancy keeps increasing, and more and more countries are confronted with an ageing society, smart health has to be applied to healthcare of older adults as well. Ambient Assisted Living, short AAL, is one new approach that aims at helping older people live as independently as possible. The publisher IGI Global defines AAL as “a relatively new ICT trend to embed intelligent objects in the environment to support people (mostly older adults) in living independently and monitored.” The Gabler Dictionary of Economics underlines in their definition that AAL technologies range from automatically switching off kitchen appliances or lights to monitoring vital functions and the automatic notification of medical assistance in case of an emergency.