What is eHEALTH? .

I am often asked, “What is eHEALTH?”  

Suno Wood, Chair, ETSI TC eHEALTH

eHEALTH is not a single entity. It is a merging of many information and communication technologies and their attendant standards that work together to provide and constantly improve the provision of health services. eHEALTH equipment is essentially contextual in healthcare. Wellness and fitness data form an integral part of our information stream from before the cradle to beyond the grave as we add genetics to the diagnostic mix.

We view the Green Deal as an important development. Clean air and water are the building blocks of health and today’s ICT standards contribute to their availability. We expect medical devices to be enhanced with greater connectivity. eHEALTH will envelope IoT, wearables, and the use of AI without making them specifically, “medical.” We will encourage sustainability, and a better understanding of environmental waste versus contamination.

There are many areas in which standards could be developed to support the Green Deal and the new industrial policies in Europe. However, there are also challenges to be faced which we aim to tackle in our technical group. For example, emphasis in the Green Deal is placed on the reuse of equipment and clothing. Whilst many have criticised the over abundant use of single use medical instruments and PPE, few would dispute that strict adherence to single use practice has slowed the spread of the recent pandemic and continues to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. There can be no compromise in health safety but new ways of reducing the burdens of single use need to be found if we are not to turn the clock back and discard the practice. This includes record keeping, storage and transport, areas where IoT has a clear role to play.

Technology in health services requires constant updating and improvement to provide ever-better care for the patient. In order for this to be effective, technical standards must aid the process. This, for example will support new methods of diagnosis, particularly as AI is implemented, in areas such as cancer diagnosis, pharmaceuticals, monitoring and control. Examples are too many to enumerate which is why our group has studied, with the support of StandICT, a range of generic issues, such as Use Cases and Data Sharing which are important to the eHEALTH community and to European society in a wider context.

Finally, I would add that TC eHEALTH discussions on standards always include an awareness of the European respect for Human Rights issues which may arise as a result of new technologies to be employed in the health environment.