Bridging the gap between health care professionals and eHealth industry

author: Matic Meglič, Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia
published: Feb. 19, 2010,   recorded: January 2010,   views: 3961


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In eHealth we all always say we are there for the patients and for the health care professionals. We say we are there to offer better, faster and ubiquitous health care to the patients, we say we are there to support the work of health care professionals – reduce their risks, make their lives simpler, their work more efficient.

Is this truly so?

The three mayor stakeholders in eHealth market actually have quite disparate goals and ambitions. The government is aiming for cost‐efficient health care provision, transparency of resource utilization and level of control. The health care professionals are looking for price competitive tools to make their work simpler and more efficient. And the industry is looking for profit. If customer is king, who is the main customer in eHealth market? If the market will be growing with two digit growth rates, who will be the customers spending more and more on it and how to serve them?

Experience from the trenches shows that the gap between all three stakeholders exists. It has several dimensions, including differences in expected and delivered functionalities, perceived added value and willingness to pay, ranking of priorities for future development etc. Important to notice is also that market assessments and projections do not always reflect the actual situation – especially in new member states with public health care systems often showing signs of wear and tear due to years of missing investments, lack of incentives for performance improvements, and rigid reimbursement of health care services. Reducing this gap is crucial for accelerated eHealth market growth but it requires understanding of intricate details and considerate effort.

Substantiate amount of literature exists on the topic (i.e. Accelerating the development of the eHealth market in Europe ) but the following projects and initiatives provide additional demonstrations of gaps and efforts to reduce it:
a) Project RIGHT (Framework Programme 6 funded project developing tools for knowledge management and collaboration of physicians)
b) Project IT‐STAL (Attitudes of health care and IT professionals towards Slovene eHealth strategy
c) futurEhealth initiative (top 10 business ideas by Slovene Finance Newspaper): enhancing eHealth market growth in Slovenia
d) National eHealth Project in Slovenia.
e) (best practice example of eHealth service to support depression treatment).
Way forward is one of listening and whispering to health care professionals at the same time.

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