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The means by which individuals access information in healthcare has transformed in recent years, particularly for the younger generation. Care delivery must adapt to meet these needs and, in response, the ESC has opened up a discussion about eHealth at ESC Congress 2017.
Professor Martin Cowie (Imperial College, London, UK) says that healthcare has become more internet-based and that, patients can access expert medical advice at their home or office as well as by going to see a specialist. He comments: “The ESC thinks that cardiologists should see how the world is changing. Some of these things are undoubtedly going to bring benefits; others may have issues. As cardiologists, we should be the ones raising these issues, because those creating digital health solutions haven’t yet thought of them. But also, if there is a new technology that really works well and is a better, more convenient way of delivering the best healthcare, particularly if it saves money, we should know about it, and be enthusiastic.”
He describes eHealth as encompassing a range of technologies, from electronic medical records and electronic prescribing, to wearable technology, and remote monitoring for implantable devices. It also includes apps on smartphones; with one such app, a device is clipped onto the back of a smartphone to perform an ECG. A PDF of the reading, via the app, can then be sent to a cardiologist for review.
Prof. Cowie states: “There are many digital healthcare technologies that work and make a difference. The ESC is aiming to normalise the concept of eHealth. Anything different can seem threatening, but we need to know about it. Some things will last, some will not, but let us talk about it and understand the terminology. The ESC Congress is a good opportunity to get updated and learn about every aspect of clinical practice, and eHealth is an important component of that. “The ESC is really prioritising eHealth at this year’s Congress. In the registration area, there are booths demonstrating new technology in a new Digital Health Area and there is also an eHealth track with dedicated sessions.”
There are several issues in eHealth that need to be addressed, including data security and validity, as well as how and whether outside information should be imported into a standard medical record. “Where is the legal responsibility for acting on information remotely collected by the patient on their own initiative, and not triggered by the doctor?” Prof. Cowie asks, adding that many new technologies have not been tested in trials. But he describes the advantages of eHealth as a “kind of democratisation of advice, empowering patients”, giving them the ability to access expertise anywhere in the world.
The ESC is also working with the European Commission, providing insights and representatives from the cardiology community to ensure the interests of cardiovascular healthcare professionals and their patients are represented. Find out more at www.escardio.org/eHealth
Resources of the presentation:
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