eHealth is the overarching term for the range of tools based on information and communication technologies used to assist and enhance the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and management of health and lifestyle.
eHealth covers the interaction between patients and health-service providers, institution-to-institution data transmission, or peer-to-peer communication between patients or health professionals; it also includes health information networks, electronic health records, telemedicine services, and personal wearable and portable communicable systems for monitoring and supporting patients.
eHealth tools can, for example, contribute to the availability of potentially life-saving health information where and when it is needed—a crucial issue as the cross-border movement of citizens and patients grows. eHealth can deliver significant benefits to the entire community, through improvements in access to and quality of care. It contributes to citizen-centred health systems and to the overall efficacy, efficiency, and sustainability of the health sector.
The European Union is moving towards a “European eHealth Area”, coordinating actions and promoting synergies between related policies and stakeholders, so as to develop better solutions, prevent market fragmentation and disseminate best practices. Specific objectives are to create an electronic health record architecture by supporting the exchange of information and standardization; to set up health information networks between points of care to coordinate reactions to health threats; to ensure online health services such as information on healthy living and illness prevention; and to develop teleconsultation, ePrescribing, eReferral and eReimbursement capabilities. The success of this venture requires that citizens', patients', and health professionals' requirements and involvement are considered in the implementation strategies and projects.