E-Health: buzzword or paradigm shift?
E-Health is a rapidly developing field at the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business. It refers to health services and information delivered or enhanced through electronic information and communications technologies. A quick overview by Loïck Menvielle, Professor at EDHEC and Director of the Management in Innovative Health Chair.
- This article has been initially published in the EDHEC Vox Mag #13 (Sept. 2022)
While it has been evolving for decades, E-Health has taken major leaps forward in the last two years due to the pandemic, which made remote access to healthcare a more pressing concern than ever before. Massive technological progress was made on 7 September 2001, for example, when Professor Jacques Marescaux working from New York removed the gall bladder of a patient in Strasbourg, France, using telecommunications solutions based on high-speed services and a surgical robot. E-Health growth is impressive: revenue in the sector is expected to reach over €50,663 million this year, with an annual growth rate of over 8% between now and 2026. In France, nearly 12% of the population currently lives without access to healthcare. The next five-year period will raise fundamental questions regarding access to health, and if nothing is done, this situation could worsen, potentially resulting in 27 million French citizens living without access to a general practitioner. In this context, the digitalisation of healthcare is not a helpful improvement but a fundamental requirement.
A case in point
A more everyday example of the impact of E-Health is the treatment of diabetes, which affects 60 million people in Europe and over 460 million worldwide. This chronic illness requires sufferers to regularly measure their own glucose levels, adjust their insulin doses and communicate results to their physicians. E-Health facilitates this process and democratises access to information. It also transforms the doctor-patient relationship into a collaborative partnership, leading to improvements in treatment solutions.
The big win-win
E-Health solutions create virtuous circles as the interests of patients, physicians and medical companies, such as pharmaceutical suppliers, align. They contribute to all four of the “4Ps” of medical care, making it more predictive, preventive, personalised and participatory. In addition, while questions of ethics and patient privacy must be carefully considered in this domain, these issues are, to an extent, solved by that same virtuous circle. The more ethical and transparent solution-providers are, the greater the patient trust and buy-in, and therefore the quantity of data collected. By being committedly patient-centric, finding solutions for – and crucially with – their end users, businesses ensure that their products are ethical by design since they have been created truly to respond to the user need.
EDHEC plays a part
To support this sector and remain at the forefront of business innovation, EDHEC has now created a Chair of Management in Innovative Health which will see Bristol Myers Squibb – which recently ranked in the world’s top ten pharmaceutical companies – fund a team of EDHEC researchers in considering questions pertinent to the domain. They will examine, among other issues, how digital solutions can add value for patients and society, what ethical questions need to be considered, and how this evolving sector can overcome the problem of widespread digital illiteracy to ensure its innovations are made accessible to all. At EDHEC, we believe that education and health must be a society’s top priorities if it is to thrive, and we are all committed to this venture, which unites both for the good of patients, businesses, and society as a whole.
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash