Two eHealth Driving Forces

Health care systems around the world is now starting to see several disruptive transformations. One of the most important factors behind this is the rapid development in the emerging eHealth services.

But many citizens, doctors and patients are still asking “But what is eHealth good for, really?”. The reason for this is that is so hard for us to imagine new ways of doing things, new types of services that enable new types of interactions between patients and health care.

The future of health care is already here, but it is very unevenly spread in different countries, regions, hospitals, clinics and various patient groups. But it is obviuous that eHealth has many possibilities for both patients and health care professionals, mainly driven by two disrupting forces; the smartphone and the possibility of continuous health monitoring.

The Smartphone

Patient empowerment is about enabling patients to engage themselves in their own health care.
The main tool for this is the ubiquitous smartphone, our central and very personal communication device.

It’s about self care through self tracking. 
Our smartphones are always with us and contain advanced sensors for fitness and health that can track fitness data such as physical activity and other life style factors as well as medical data like heart rate, gait and much more.

There are also hundreds of thousands of health-related apps to choose from and a quickly growing array of certified medical body sensors that connect wirelessly to the body and upload personal health data for automatic or manual analysis.


This is a highly recommended book by Dr Eric Topol, notice his spot-on subtitle “The Future of Medicine is in your hands”.

Dr Topol says: “Smartphones will be immeasurably transformative for the future of medicine.”



A large International survey of adult smartphone users in 14 countries clearly shows that the citizens are already way ahead of our current health care systems:
“80% of consumers want to interact with their doctors on mobile devices. 2/3 would prefer to get medical advice on their mobile devices instead of going to the doctor’s office.”

Continuous Health Monitoring

“When you go see your doctor, they will give you a bunch
of drugs based on how they saw at one single office visit.
Its almost criminal.”
– Eric Dishman, Director Health Innovation, Intel
A major problem with our current health care system is that it is based on spot-checks by doctors only when we experience acute health problems, or during yearly routine checkups.
At all other times the doctor is unaware of patient’s health and the patient has no access to personal health data for self care.
The smartphone and connected medical sensors and devices enable us to track health data continuously.
This has never been possible before and it will have tremendous health benefits:

Benefits for everybody

  • Daily health and fitness tracking.
  • Personal learning tool for insights about my wellbeing and what lifestyle choices that works best for me.

Benefits for patients with chronic diseases

  • Personal learning tool for insights about my disease activity and medication effects related to my life style.
  • Prevention of exacerbations by alerting me when critical medical data trends point towards upcoming complications.

With continuous health monitoring, the health care professionals can have a much more coaching role and be instantly available online when personal contact is needed. It also thereby saves a lot of staff resources and enables many patients to stay in their own homes.

So let’s embrace these possibilities! There are several issues and risks involved that need to be considered and changing work methods is always met with resistance. But the current system is not sustainable and if we involve all the stakeholders in this transformation, the results will be worth it!
Henrik Ahlen
See also my post: What is eHealth?


What is eHealth?

Updated Sept 21, 2015    Svensk version

What is eHealth? Why is eHealth important? How should good eHealth services work?

The term eHealth is often used for all types if IT services in health care. Online booking of visits, EMR systems (Electronic Medical Records), electronic prescriptions and remittances etc.

To me, all these IT services are useful IT and important to implement. But they are more about making the health care processes more effective than about directly improving health. So I think these types of services should be called Health IT instead.

Continue reading What is eHealth?

Vad är eHälsa?

Uppdaterad 2015-08-21    What is eHealth?

Begreppet eHälsa används ofta för alla typer av IT-tjänster som har med vård och omsorg att göra. Tidbokning av läkarbesök på nätet, journalsystem, elektroniska recept och remisser etc. För mig är alla dessa tjänster nyttiga tekniska IT-tjänster som naturligtvis är viktiga att ha, men de handlar mera om att effektivisera vården än att direkt förbättra hälsa. Dessa typer av tjänster bör därför kallas för Hälso-IT istället.

Continue reading Vad är eHälsa?