The aging of the world’s population combined with the growth of chronic medical conditions is bringing relentless pressure to bear on health systems globally, even as consumer expectations are increasing. As nations around the world seek to address this challenge, they are exploring the ways in which information technology can help them healthcare improvements and innovation.
Our frame of reference is more than 30 years of global health information technology experience, with systems installed in approximately 100 countries. While there is wide variance in political and economic environments, countries face remarkably similar challenges around the world.
A well-designed eHealth strategy is a critical element of the effort to design sustainable healthcare models for the future. Such a strategy must include a shift from hospital-centric healthcare for individuals to coordinated, distributed health and social care for populations.
Viable population-focused eHealth models rely on robust information technology, including:
- Shared virtual care records to facilitate planning and communication between health and social care providers.
- Modern, assistive patient care systems to promote safe, effective care.
- Coordinated care plans that promote patient engagement and ensure that the right care is delivered across all care settings.
- Comprehensive analytics to document effectiveness and support clinical research.
While every community’s history, needs, and goals are unique, a thoughtful, continuous approach to eHealth is an essential element of all health system transformations. A practical path forward includes five components:
- Documented benchmarks and goals.
- Adoption of a proven, community-wide connected health record solution.
- Investment in patient and provider engagement.
- Enhanced information utilization at the point of care.
- Continuous measurement and improvement.
Leading care providers worldwide have demonstrated the practicality and benefits of population-focused eHealth. A coordinated, distributed care model — in which patients are full partners, and social care is integrated into the model to enhance quality of life — is the promise for 21st century health systems.