When ehealth is not ehealth

by Hans on 2008/08/05

Now that I’ve had a few weeks under my belt in my ‘industry role’, I’ve been able to do some more thinking about my previous post.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. ehealth is NOT ehealth:  Industry and government operate using a completely different definition of ehealth than what was used in the academic circles I was in.  For me, ehealth was a concept; it was (and is) something that requires investigation.  Perhaps that’s why the systematic definition that I conducted a few years back is so important.  We were able to catalogue the different definitions being used.  To government, ehealth is a term used to describe large-scale information technology/infrastructure projects that happen to occur within the health care sector.  It’s not wrong as these provider agencies have different responsibilities than the researchers.
  2. Research is the thing that academics do:  When undertaking projects, decisions need to be made.  Because of the time constraints, people seem to search for a few short time to compile all of the information they can to base a decision on.  In a sense, people conduct a review except that it’s not systematic.  I am surprised by the attitude that academics live in some fantasy land doing research while everyone else is doing *real* work.  Sure academics operate under different constraints, but they have contributions to make too.
  3. Academics/Researchers need to get more involved:  Some of my research colleagues may disagree with me on this point, but I believe that academics and researchers need to get more involved with the world.  There is so much that needs to be done that people need help.  I’ve seen examples where some engineering professors partner with an industry group and both sides benefit.  For the professor, he (or she) can find opportunities to conduct more research and/or find projects for students.  Students get opportunities to learn, while the industry partner(s) benefit from the expertise of the professor and also get a chance to assess potential future employees.
  4. Patient?  What patient?:  Maybe I’m a bit cynical, but I’m worried about the patient.  No-one talks about or considers the patient.  It’s always about achieving a project deliverable and coming in on budget and getting the clinicians (i.e., physicians) on board.  I understand that finances are important and that clinicians play an immensely important role, but who speaks for the patient?  Patients and regular people need to get more involved in the entire ehealth agenda (be it from a research perspective or from an industry advocacy perspective) or else they/we will be left out again, just like during the early stages of when the health systems were being developed.  This is a perfect opportunity to make real change.

I’m thinking that this experience will be an interesting one for me as I navigate between these two worlds.

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