Important areas in need of development

Services

Provided that we have appropriate connectivity, capacity and security for eHealth solutions we can start to build eHealth services for transnational cooperation on health. The medical information databases can then be made available for medical staff independently of distance and organisational affiliation if it is appropriate for the medical service and we have patient consent. We are, however, still missing a number of general services needed for transnational cooperation besides telephone, email, file transfer and remote access to existing information databases for medical information. Considering the eHealth technologies’ possibilities for widening the geographical area where medical staff can operate, we should look for how we can, via eHealth services, make local working possible, independently of geographical area. Work in a medical setting comprises, to a great extent, meetings: doctors and nurses meet the patient; doctors and nurses ask advice from a colleague or a specialist; doctors, nurses, other staff and sometimes the patient meet on clinical rounds, treatment planning meetings, rehabilitation support, administrative conferences, etc. We need to develop services that support virtual, online meetings which, as well as voice and video, can also convey data from medical devices and show relevant information from the medical information databases.

Typical examples of virtual online clinical meetings are:

  • Clinical conferences/rounds
  • Medical staff to medical staff consultation
  • Medical staff/patient follow-up or rehabilitation
  • Remote therapy

Virtual online clinical conferences/rounds are multi-part video-conferences in which all relevant information - medical record, lab data, images, electrophysiological graphs, etc - are available on screens for all participants and where any participant can point at the screen image so that it can be seen by others. All technical components needed to arrange such meetings are already available, but user-friendly integrated solutions are still missing. The other classes of virtual online meetings are similar but often point-to-point. In the case of consultation, it might be necessary to be able to reach it at any workstation, while a round may require a special room with good image screens. 

Patient health systems for home monitoring and patient health records are now very hot topics. This is seen as an important component in handling the demographic problem with an ageing population and many patients with long-term, chronic conditions. Standardised systems that can collect data from different suppliers’ sensors and home terminals are vital.