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E-health is defined as transfer of healthcare practices by healthcare professionals through electronic means; e-health comprises three main services, they are- management and delivery of health information to patients using internet and telecommunication, usage of IT and E-commerce for improved health products and services and usage of E-business and E-commerce for improved management of healthcare systems. From the time of using healthcare monitoring systems in hospitals and clinics for diagnoses, e-health has advanced to much higher levels of applications such as reduction in number of patient visits as the remote patient monitoring helps healthcare professionals to send and receive health information anywhere and anytime, home care systems after discharging from hospitals. Increased aging population and growing concerns of chronic diseases has boosted the market for e-health.
Advanced technology is the key factor that enables innovations and improvements in any field. Healthcare is the one of the biggest benefactors of advanced technology; the IT and Telecom sectors have been greatly assistive of inventions and developments for providing better healthcare. Mobile Health (m-health) is one such subset of e-health that provides health information to mobile communication devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and tablet computers. The e-health market has facilitated great deal of unique technological introductions such as downloadable apps on smartphones and tablet computers that offer real time data and accurate information regarding personal healthcare. The apps that are developed; offer tips, great insights and allow users to input details so that the precise details of diet, reminders and many other services are sent directly and can be downloaded by the users.
The global e-health market is estimated to grow to US $160 billion by 2015 at an average growth rate of 12%-16%, according to GSMA, and the global m-health market will be worth approximately $23 billion by 2017. As the mobile operators are increasingly impacting healthcare industry by improving accesses, wider reach and better quality services, there appears to be a significant strides in supporting the larger e-health sector. Major consumers of e-health services are healthcare providers, public and private healthcare insurance companies, governments, and healthcare consumers. M-health is contributing to the healthcare industry by improving the healthcare access, low-cost healthcare services, delivering of end to end healthcare solutions, wider reach across various demographics, sustainability and higher quality. In low and middle income countries, the financial and geographical barriers are eliminated with the help of e-health systems as the affordable, universally accessible care from donors and programme implementers have researched innovative approaches and solutions, and they are implemented into practice with incredible size.
The mobile operators have clearly expanded to offering solutions that support core clinical and operational processes within the hospitals and clinics; to provide fully integrated care. Effective and efficient integration of mobile technologies and infrastructure into the healthcare system created significant value. Developing countries are experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of mobile phone and internet users. As a result, many healthcare implementers and policy makers are exploring the availability and challenges of e-health market for quality and financing of healthcare. The increased interest is due to the witnessing of growing number of events, web sites and literature focused on e-health, and despite the increased interest, there is still relative nascent as few programmes are still fragmented and un-coordinated, with low and middle income countries’ majority of e-health literature consists of only articles describing single uses of technology in healthcare delivery.
Utilization of m-health presents a systematic landscaping of health programmes; nevertheless the government sector is still lacking behind private sector as maximum e-health activity takes place in private healthcare centres. Successful e-health markets enable better coordination of services, evidence based practices and high quality data integration. E-health entrepreneurs possess clear understanding of market size and key problems that business models propose to solve and sustain. Challenges in growing e-health markets are notable and they must be addresses through innovative partnership with various organizations across the world for providing better healthcare to every demographic.