Many hospital CEOs tend to be unenthusiastic about e-health. It's not a revenue-generating activity and requires major IT support. I have addressed telemedicine and patient portal issues in Lab Soft News for many years (see, for example: Insurance Companies Can Use Telemedicine to Enlarge Their Provider Networks; Publishing Test Results in Patient Portals: Holding a Tiger by the Tail). I recently reviewed an article that links e-health to patient engagement and believe that this is a useful way to view e-heath projects (see: Reframing Patient Care through eHealth: A Powerful Toolkit for Patient-Specific Engagement), Below is an excerpt from it:
Making patient active and engaged in their healthcare is the gold standard in the 21st century health policy and medical practice. It enables and retains the patient’s autonomy and self-determination, and it supports patients’ rights to make decisions about their future care. The concept of patient engagement calls for healthcare organizations to reframe their models and approaches to care. It also requires innovations that allow healthcare systems to facilitate the exchanges between patients and their providers. The use of new communication technologies in health management is called eHealth. It is a broad term that encompasses a varied range of phenomena, conceptions and instruments. Several definitions of eHealth term are available in the literature, most of them highlighting the importance of Internet-related technologies to support, enable, promote and enhance health or, more precisely, the process of healthcare. Generally speaking, eHealth tools and applications such as Google, Wikipedia, eBooks, Twitter, library web portals can enable patients to easily access health information and improve their health literacy. Internet tools and sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, www.patientslikeme.com can enable the creation of and participation in patients’ virtual communities to facilitate social sharing of health topics. Moreover, EHR and PHR technologies can be useful tools for sharing patient information within the healthcare system among healthcare professionals and with patients. Paired with phones, mobile phones, SMS and email, they also can provide valuable support for daily care through remote monitoring and by facilitating connections between patients and health providers on demand.
Although all hospital executives endorse the idea of building relationships with healthcare consumers, they tend to be more accustomed to the "reactive model" whereby physicians and surgeons treat diseases rather than promote preventive medicine (see: Preventive Medicine Emerging as a New Clinical Practice Opportunity; Cleveland Clinic Lowers Health Insurance Costs with Preventive Medicine). In other words, patients forge a relationship with a hospital and its physicians when they need help with a health problem. This perspective is due, in part, to the fact that treatment of disease is more remunerative than disease prevention. E-health provides the opportunity for hospital personnel to engage healthcare consumers when they are well at relatively low cost so that they will turn to the hospital and its physicians when they are sick.
Part of the secret sauce of patent involvement via e-health for hospitals is a continuing presence in social media like Facebook and Twitter (see: Positive Role Identified for Twitter in Cancer Clinical Trial Recruitment). I am more familiar with the latter and I have noticed that one of the more active health systems in terms of tweets is the Cleveland Clinic. Their posts are always sophisticated and tend to focus on new research findings discussed by Cleveland Clinic scientists and physicians. They are thus speaking primarily to physicians rather than to a healthcare consumer audience. In this way, they will promote referrals to the Clinic but not necessarily patient involvement as discussed above. By way of contrast, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute tweets are always interesting and useful but tend to be more oriented toward healthcare consumers and cancer care.