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E-health for regional, rural and remote area health care consumers and providers as members of a health information society
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Evelyn HovengaEvelyn Hovenga
E-health encompasses health informatics, health telematics, telemedicine, and telehealth. It is a significant component, along with e-commerce and the information economy, of an information society. The information society concept began during 1993 when the government of the United States of America launched its program to establish a national information infrastructure to become the core network for the distribution of all types of information. That same year the president of the European Commission published his "White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment" in which this concept is further developed (Garric 1994, 6). The following year G7 (now G8) leaders identified the need for a worldwide information society. They recognized a number of potential benefits such as improved health care, easier access to public services, new leisure and entertainment opportunities, teleworking, and home shopping and sponsored a number of projects. Furthermore governments have developed and implemented various national action plans from which a global information society is expected to emerge. An information society is one where sound, open, solidarity minded, decentralized, and competitive economies are embraced. This chapter provides an overview of the most significant projects undertaken relative to telehealth, primary health care and e-health, health informatics, and ecommerce in the health industry toward the establishment of a global health information society. Rural, regional, and remote area health care consumers and providers need to be aware of these, participate wherever possible, and thus ensure that their particular information and knowledge needs are being met or can be met in the future. The adoption of information and communication technologies usually requires changes to work practices as well as global system interoperability or connectivity in order to realize the many potential benefits. A considerable amount of work needs to be undertaken to achieve the latter.