The study recognises many ways in which ICT can positively impact the health sector, and increasingly so as technologies continue to evolve and new applications are being invented continuously. This can result in better, more efficient healthcare at lower costs and economic growth.
However, the report witnesses some potential risks to eHealth which should be taken into consideration: concerns about data ownership and use, privacy and security, attitudes of patients and professionals to new developments, and interoperability of systems.
The report states: "Integrating ICT in health in practice has proven challenging." According to the study, many eHealth projects have been delayed or failed, often because there was no long term vision that all stakeholders adhered to. Or because of a lack of skills, unrealistic expectations and a lack of interoperability of systems and standards.
Improve our understanding
It is important, concludes the study, to improve our understanding of how greater adoption and integration of ICT in health can contribute to reducing healthcare expenditure and increase the sector's performance, improving health outcomes and safety, job creation, and innovation in healthcare delivery.
The report, entitled Unlocking the ICT growth potential in Europe: Enabling people and businesses, was written by Desirée van Welsum, Willem Overmeer and Bart van Ark. It highlights the importance of unlocking the growth potential of ICT and calls for a strategic vision for Europe.