Digital Insight – Information-Driven Health & Care
A hospital is generally regarded as a place where patients are cured from injuries and diseases. However, in an increasing number of cases, clinical patient management within the hospital alone is not enough for successful treatment, but continuation of the therapy beyond the hospital walls is indicated. This requires not only cooperative and motivated patients, but also information exchange with out-patient healthcare providers and professionals. Apart from physicians, also nurses are concerned, since nurses usually have more contact to the patients and their families. Today's ICT tools need to actively involve all the players in healthcare, in order to close the gaps in between multimodal patient care. Additionally, data should be complemented with data from the patients' homes and support active and independent living.
Ineffective discharge management may jeopardize successful conclusion of treatment. Moreover, hospital stays can represent independent risk factors for additional diseases or complications, e.g. when nosocomial infections or delirium are involved. Many of these events could potentially be prevented, but prevention strategies often need an integrated view and involve more than just one type of hospital personnel, i.e. physicians, nurses, administration, technicians, etc. Within hospitals, a lot of data that could help to early detect or even to prevent such events are already available. So far, however, often these data are either not sufficiently considered or implications of identified risk factors are not sufficiently communicated. “Information-driven Health & Care” relates both, a) identification of certain factors within data pools from health & care and b) information exchange among all the involved stakeholders. ICT can support both aspects and provide tools that help health professions in identifying and communicating relevant data. Such tools will play an important role in future healthcare systems.
When thinking of the most common diseases in industrialised countries, such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, information exchange networks usually need to cover only a rather small geographic area. In case of less frequent or even rare conditions, however, health informatics and eHealth are becoming more and more connected across Europe. European Reference Networks for rare diseases are currently being implemented by the EU member states. Tools such as virtual tumour boards for oncological treatments or, generally spoken, virtual multidisciplinary meetings or conferences will play an important role within these networks. The Reference Networks, once fully functional, will not only ease access to specialised experts for patients with rare diseases, they will also build a European ICT infrastructure that might influence health care processes for the next decades. Therefore, it is essential that such infrastructures build on well-established standards such as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), even if standardization might initially require more time for implementation.
The 2017 issue of the annual Health Informatics meets eHealth conference addresses this increasingly international focus of eHealth and acknowledges the importance of cross-border health ICT. “Digital Insight – information-driven Health & Care” has been chosen as the special topic for eHealth2017 since future ICT systems need to include methods of machine learning and predictive analytics in order to provide actionable information to health professionals and to support preventive health care concepts, as described above. The present book, available as an open access eBook, was compiled to give some digital insight into the current research in health informatics and eHealth, addressing future issues of health and care.
March 21st, 2017