The benefits of Digital Health are widely recognised. The European Council Conclusions on ‘Safe and Efficient Healthcare through eHealth’ (December 2009) recognise ”the importance of eHealth as a tool to improve quality and patient safety, to modernise national healthcare systems, to increase their effectiveness and make them better adapted to meet the individual needs of patients, health professionals and the challenges of an ageing society”.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of the recognised benefits of Digital Health.
Digital Health can help deliver care to people located in remote places and who do not have access to a hospital, for example through a tele-consultation.
Digital Health can help improve the quality of care by providing easier, safer and faster access to patient data, thereby allowing the healthcare professional to access the right data at the right time and make an informed-based diagnosis.
Digital Health in general and telemedicine in particular can help improve the quality of life of patients by, for example, monitoring the condition of the patient at distance at home, rather than in a hospital. This is particularly relevant for elderly, chronically ill persons and people living in remote regions.
The availability of information on the patient – such as his medical history, past diseases and interventions, allergies, reaction to medications – in an electronic health record (EHR) allows healthcare professionals to deliver a treatment tailored to the needs of the patient and thereby reduce risks of complications, adverse drug reactions etc.
Adequate Digital Health tools such as electronic health records allow healthcare professionals to access information on the patient faster and thereby avoid losing time compiling information from different location/sources. By allowing healthcare professionals to save time, Digital Health tools also address the issue of shortage of healthcare professionals. With the increase of chronic diseases and the ageing population, healthcare professionals will be required to monitor more patients. Digital Health tools can help them work more efficiently, by storing patient information in a single location, taking medical decisions better and faster with the support of decision support systems.
Digital Health can help reduce costs (clinical and administrative costs) by, for example, avoiding the duplication of medical examinations and unnecessary visits to the general practitioners / hospitals.