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Digital Health

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are the new way to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare services in Europe - eHealth and mHealth allow for better prevention, diagnosis and therapies.

In Europe, the introduction of ICTs and telemedicine is estimated to increase the efficiency of healthcare systems by 20%. Thanks to eHealth and mHealth, patients can access personal health information online, benefit from better prevention, early diagnosis and use personalised therapies that enable them to be more independent.

What is eHealth and mHealth?

The term electronic Health, or eHealth, refers to the transfer of health resources and health care by electronic means. A subsegment of electronic Health is mobile Health, or mHealth, covering medical and public health practice, supported by mobile devices. In particular, mHealth includes the use of mobile communication devices for health and well-being services as well as information purposes.

mhealth facilitates self-management of chronic diseases

mHealth can bring improved self-management for patients with chronic diseases. It can lead to better adherence to treatment thanks to reminders and motivational features. Furthermore, it may help in predicting and/or avoiding exacerbations and attacks by tracking symptoms and providing information on trigger factors (e.g. pollution, pollen etc.). 

At the same time, mHealth allows easier and direct contact with healthcare professionals and can provide educational content, thus improving health literacy and patient empowerment and enabling shared-decision making on care pathways. 

However, if eHealth and mHealth can generally be considered a positive development, the wide uptake and the continuous use in the long period by patients are still challenges. Currently there are around 100.000 mHealth applications available and to keep the focus on benefiting patients and ensuring their protection and safety, this app-explosion needs to be regulated, especially on aspects like transparency and data protection. At the same time, it is crucial to build trust around the use of mHealth apps and related devices: patients wish to have products that can really bring improvement in their life and need guidance on what tool or device works better for their diseases. Last, we recommend innovators and developers to involve patients in the design of their solutions so products are truly addressing the needs of end-users.