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Challenges to Healthcare on Internet



The use of technology to assist in the delivery of quality patient care covers a vast area from biomechanical devices to robotics to the electronic medical record to email. Sometimes, the term "E-health" has been used very loosely to include any electronic healthcare-related activity. Points to be considered are:



1. E-health is not a surrogate for the clinician. It does provide the means to extend the reach of the provider beyond a face-to-face patient encounter, with the advantage of expanding the delivery of limited resources and expertise. For instance, using electronic images and pictures, diagnoses may be made from a remote location, either within or outside the facility.




2. E-health provides delivery of useful medical information via the Internet, kiosks or other electronic means that may facilitate patient education and provider decision-making.



3. E-health facilitates collaboration between providers and other caregivers through file sharing, email and electronic medical record systems.



4. E-health does not replace existing infrastructure applications. Instead, it facilitates those processes to expedite delivery and improve the quality of the services provided both locally and remotely. It operates within the walls of the health facility and across geographic boundaries.



5. E-health is not another name for e-commerce in the healthcare industry. However, the facilitation of business processes among employers, employees, insurers, suppliers, clinicians, patients, administrators and regulators may include examples of E-health.



6. E-health is not the routing hardware or the networking software, but it uses those to deliver the information needed to achieve the primary goal.



7. E-health uses these means, as well as other telecommunications services, to deliver the information and processes necessary for the ultimate outcome of patient care: improved health status.




Health information, products, and services have the potential to both improve health and cause harm. Organizations and individuals that provide health information on the Internet have an obligation to be trustworthy, protect users’ privacy, and adhere to standards for best practices for on-line commerce and professional services in health care.


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