Telemedicine & E-Health. The Future Of Healthcare?

    The use of technology and the internet continue to increase, with more than half the world’s populace being active web users. Advancement of the internet and improvement of technology has granted the world a lot of access to everything and everyone, from the comforts of our home. Technology continues to transform our lives today in every way possible – including how we interact with others and how we get the information and assistance we need. With the web at close reach coupled with advanced technology, the health sector has also evolved. With telemedicine and e-health, information sourced by patients concerning diagnostics, drug prescription and clinical advice can now be easily acquired from the comfort of homes with a computer, web camera and a reliable internet connection.

    What Is E-Health?

    E-Health is a general term used to describe all health care activities accompanied and supported by information and communications technology (ICT). ICT tools which include mobile phones, computers, smartwatches and internet services like electronic mail and social media networks, are used to carry out an array of services. These electronics are used in the treating of out-patients, carrying out diagnosis, conducting medical researches, storing medical information etc. 

    Types Of E-Health

    E-health is classified based on the type of health care service rendered. This service could either be of clinical relevance or non-clinical relevance as e-health is as well beneficial to non-health staff in the health factor. The non-clinical applications include:

    • Electronic health records: health data of patients are orderly stored and easily retrieved from a computerized collection. This makes sorting of information by health care professionals easier
    • Mobile health:  This involves the use of mobile gadgets like computers, mobile phones, smartwatches etc. for the collection of health data and sharing of healthcare information

    The clinical applications include:

    • E-prescribing: Involves the use of internet transmission to access video, audio, or written drug prescription from pharmacists or doctors. It also involves the printing of prescription details
    • Computerized physician order entry (CPOE): CPOE is an electronic instruction of tests, diagnostics and treatments of medical personnel for his or her patient. This information is usually communicated to other staff through gadgets so as to improve the efficiency of the doctor/personnel in charge 
    • Clinical decision support system: This system provides a series of past clinical experiences and observations to physicians for maximal effectiveness. It ensures health practitioners make the right decisions by providing relevant health observations linked with health knowledge.
    • Telemedicine: Telemedicine encompasses a broader range of services among other clinical applications of e-health. It is the most widely used application of electronic health

    What Is Telemedicine?

    Telemedicine, according to The World Health Organization “is the delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communications technologies for the exchange of valid information for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.”

    The term telemedicine and telehealth are used interchangeably for the delivery of health care services by physicians to individuals and the general communities using ICT tools. Telemedicine is that branch of e-health in which the critical purpose is to eliminate the distance barrier.

    The telecommunication technologies used include: video conferencing, wireless technologies like mobile phones, data monitoring, smartphone apps, interactive voice response technologies, fax, audio-conferencing, mobile broadband, fixed-line broadband and mobile diagnostics. These technologies aid the health care provider in rendering services for diagnostics, monitoring of conditions, medical research, medical discussion and disease controls. 

    These tools are used by both patients and health caregivers over a long distance, successfully removing any distance barrier between patients and doctors, physicians and learning professionals. 

    3 Types Of Telemedicine

    There are three types of telemedicine:

    1. Store-And-Forward Telemedicine: This type of telemedicine is also known as asynchronous telemedicine. It allows health care practitioners to carefully secure the data of patients like ultrasound and x-rays in an electronic cloud that can only be accessed by authorized users. This technological program eliminates the use of patients’ hospital files but allows maximum health care rendered by proper diagnostics of the collected data, and makes appropriate recommendations
    2. Real-Time Telemedicine: This form of telemedicine replaces the one-on-one patient’s appointments with physicians. It is the most common type of telemedicine. It involves the use of communication tools like video-conferencing, calls or messages to reach either party
    3. Remote Patient Monitoring: This form of telemedicine allows diseases and conditions to be safely monitored at a remote distance. This type of telemedicine eliminates the need for sick persons to make distant trips to the hospitals for a checkup

    Are Telemedicine Applications Widely Used Today?

    The alarming COVID-19 pandemic has led to the sudden restriction of movement globally, and has greatly expanded the use of telemedicine and e-health. Patients who needed to go for regular in-person checkups and physicians who needed to monitor the condition of their patients now do so through video, audio and other telemedicine tools. The current pandemic has opened a trusted gate for patients worldwide and many consumers are now enthusiastic about its services. A 2019 record of only 11% usage of telehealth in the United States has quickly jumped to a  50% figure during the pandemic. 

    Under all three types of telemedicine – Store-And-Forward, Real-Time Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring – there is a wide range of uses for telemedicine as e-health, which has evolved the global health sector making the rendering of services by health workers easier and receiving treatments and medications by the sick less discomforting. The modern health sector seeks applications that reduce time, produce effective services and saves energy and the applications of telemedicine fit these needs. The following are the most widely used applications of telemedicine: 

    • Lifestyle support: It has become easier for physicians to remotely monitor the lifestyles of their patients. For example, patients that need to reduce their alcohol intake and increase carb intakes get support from providers through ICT tools that are readily available today
    • Care for the elderly and ill: The need for an all-day health care provider for the elderly has been eliminated by telemedicine. The elderly can now be monitored remotely from any distance and health conditions that need attention addressed only when needed by on-call physicians
    • Health management:  Chronic conditions can be monitored easily from home.  Homes of the patients could be equipped with high-tech monitoring devices, weight scales, pulse oximeters etc. which can be easily read by the patients for real-time telemedicine appointments
    • Drug abuse checks: It is often difficult for physicians to ensure that a patient adheres to the prescription of a drug or medication, making it difficult to ensure proper health care services; the various telemedicine apps has eliminated this  problem
    • Follow-up visits: health care providers can now easily follow up with their patients virtually from any location. This use of telemedicine eliminates excuses from physicians or patients for missing appointments. It is more flexible for both the patient and the provider. It also gives the physician access to the environment of her patient, thereby facilitating proper health services

    Reasons For Fast Growth

    E-health is a constantly changing branch of science, evolving as technology and internet application advances. E-health, decades ago, was restricted and limited to the available technological tools. However, the funding of e-health globally has sky rocked.

    The utilization and steady availability of ICT tools in the world today and the recent development of the internet for providing better access to virtual conferences, web imaging and videos, emails and social networking websites have opened the way for the advancement of telemedicine and e-health. 

    This fast growth is also attributed to the shortage of physicians. With the growing need of health care workers and limited hands to carry out the tasking job, telemedicine as an e-health application has greatly solved this problem as the workability of a physician is doubled with the use of ICT tools. On-call doctors can remotely monitor more patients at a time and carry out other activities.

    The reduced cost of health care for patients has also facilitated the fast growth of telemedicine and e-health, as there is no need for transporting to see a physician and the payment of private health-care practitioners to monitor the ill or elderly could be reduced when it involves remote patient monitoring.

    Impact On Society

    E-health is beneficial to doctors and physicians, it is beneficial to the consumers, and the global health sector by applications that use what is called the “10 e’s of e-health”

    1. Efficiency in health care: telemedicine and generally e-health is efficiently reducing the cost of health care, communication barriers are also being effectively removed
    2. Enhancing care quality: medical gadgets and health monitoring devices have provided optimal care to every consumer and patient. These characteristics are encouraged by competition between different e-health providers
    3. Evidence-based medicine: rendering medical help by physicians that are based on facts and not assumptions to ensure effectiveness
    4. Empowering the consumers: e-health empowers the consumer or patient with knowledge on the use and operations of simple monitoring gadgets. It allows for the patients to access some medical data, and thus a little knowledge
    5. Encouragement to patients: e-health encourages the patient to contribute meaningfully to their well-being by heeding to prescription details on doctors watch
    6. Education of patients: patients are frequently educated through video conferencing or audio calls about their lifestyles and preventive information
    7. Enabling exchange of information: Enabling the easier exchange of information between the providers and the patients is guaranteed with the use of telemedicine and e-health
    8. Extending healthcare: e-health has expanded and extended the scope of health services worldwide by removing distance barriers as in telemedicine, by enabling online sourcing of information as in prescribing and a whole lot of services beyond its usual boundaries
    9. Ethical outlook: Ethically addresses issues that pose as challenges to the growing health sector
    10. Equitable: Provides reliable services to all classes of society at the same time 

    As the scope of e-health increases, all developing applications must be easy to use. It is one major criterias that all telecommunication and technological tools involved in e-health must be easy to use for any individual. Home monitoring devices must be easy to use and read by anyone for proper relaying of remote information. Another criteria is that it should be exciting and entertaining. e-health has become famous today because it’s an exciting new approach to health. It must as well be safe for its consumers.

    Further Growth

    With the fast growth of e-health, there are some challenges which include: 

    • training of health professionals to make accurate use of these technologies
    • standardization of e-health apps
    • tech-focused recruiting
    • ensuring data security

    These challenges could be effectively tackled by government policy formulations in countries. However, the solutions to these challenges, e-health policymakers can also face their own share of challenges like poor computer literacy, the formulation of inadequate strategic plans, irregularity in leadership, the dearth of resources, poor information relay among agents, resistance to changes, cultural challenges, insufficient funds, changing of priorities, poor efforts of leaders and so on. These challenges therefore must be adequately managed for and avoided so as to allow for a stronger healthcare sector of the globe. 


    It is no doubt that the future of the global health sector will be all about e-health and telemedicine because of increased utilization in our world, global acceptance and the continuation of technological development. There is an increased need for the implementation of e-health in developing parts of the world, and the good news is that e-health has already started to become a trend in these regions. 


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