Jun 03

eHealth dilemma – does it achieve its promise

The promise of eHealth has long been promoted as the development of technologies that aim to significantly mitigate or eliminate nearly all of the challenges that exist in healthcare now and in the future, but will the eHealth journey lead you to the promise land.

World Health Organization defines eHealth as ‘the cost-effective and secure use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for health and health-related purposes’.


3 major things that eHealth has achieved

  • Digital administrative systems are available to a significant number of healthcare providers. Clinical eHealth solutions availability is also on the increase in many countries.
  • Clinical Decision Support systems can save lives.
  • Devices and Healthcare applications are developing at an exponential rate.

3 major lessons we have learned about eHealth

  • A single system will no longer meet the future needs of most healthcare communities.
  • eHealth implementations are about people not technology, you cannot digitalize an existing process and expect change.
  • Devices and Healthcare applications are developing at an exponential rate ( yes this is both good and bad)

The dilemma arises for us all on how we define success and is this holding us back on achieving the “promise”.

The success of an eHealth implementation is often judged by the fact that a single system is available, being used and on budget ( tick) rather than did it bring about the change to achieve the “promise” needed. Infact this is often a conflicting priority as major change is harder to implement (and more costly with the additional change management) and less likely to be used initially making it harder for implementers to claim success and the magic tick.

The other part of the problem is a single system is often only the start of the journey with plans needing to be in place as part of the implementation process for when the system needs to be upgraded/ maintained and what other systems can now and in the future be integrated to increase the network of eHealth solutions required to progress your business. One of the most valuable assets of any implementation is refining the procurement and implementation process. eHealth is rarely a one time purchase and understanding the lessons learned is invaluable when you have to do it again.


We need to define success differently. Success factors should include:

  • Was the procurement and implementation effective
  • Was the system implemented ( time and budget) and can be integrated with to support your roadmap of activities
  • Does it improve the business/system goals.

At some point in the future I do hope we come to a place where we can also judge success as how quickly businesses have progressed leading to eHealth systems needing to be upgraded, replaced or additional systems added to support the next phase of growth and business goals.




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