E-health involves a broad group of activities that use electronic means to deliver health-related information, resources and services: it is the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health.
E-health encompasses a range of standards, tools and activities that use electronic means to deliver information, resources and services in relation to health and social care. At the heart of e-health is a vision of improving the quality of health information, strengthening national health systems and ensuring accessible, high-quality health care for all.
Why is e-health important?
Member States in Europe are under increasing pressure to ensure that national health systems meet the demand for the delivery of high quality, readily available services in spite of zero-growth or decreasing health budgets. Recent advances in mobile technologies, improvements in broadband coverage and the growing acceptance of tele-health and mobile health (m-health) solutions are providing new and attractive options for health care delivery. As a result, many governments are investing in e-health as a means for reforming health systems and for ensuring equitable and affordable access to health care.
Examples of e-health use include:
- accessing health information online or from mobile devices;
- treating patients from a distance;
- using wearable technologies for health;
- using ICT to educate the health workforce;
- issuing prescriptions electronically;
- booking appointments for medical consultations through the Internet;
- strengthening and reforming national health information systems; and
- using advanced analytical methods for monitoring public health and the impact of health policy interventions.
What is WHO/Europe doing to strengthen e-health?
Through the WHO European Health Information Initiative, the WHO Regional Office for Europe supports Member States in the Region in their implementation of national health sector reforms and in building capacity in e-health.
Within the European Region, WHO delivers on its e-health mandate in three ways:
- Fostering partnerships with major international stakeholders working to advance e-health.
- Sharing of global best practices and standards from successful e-health implementations.
- Working directly with governments to address their technical and strategic needs for e-health and health information.