eHealth: An up and coming study that benefits humans now and in the future

On Wednesday 22 May, over 40 professional from a variety of backgrounds including academics, healthcare professionals, government and industry met at The George Institute for Global Health at Peking University Health Science Center for the eHealth and Healthcare Innovation Workshop, which engaged participants in detailed discussions on integrated eHealth systems and future potential applications in healthcare innovation in China.


eHealth is a term for healthcare practice supported by electronic technology and communication technology. It can be applied on disease diagnosis, prevention, control, and treatment. Examples of eHealth include electronic health record, mobile Health, and healthcare information systems.


Speakers included Dr Li Qun Xu, Chief Scientist at China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), Dr Gari Clifford, Director for Affordable Health Technology at George Center for Healthcare Innovation, University of Oxford, Dr David Clifton, Lecturer from Institute of Biomedical Engineering at University of Oxford, Professor Jian Cai, Executive Dean of Innovation Research Institute at Peking University, and Associate Professor David Peiris, Head for Primary Health Care of The George Institute for Global Health Australia at University of Sydney. They each gave a keynote speech on cutting edge technology and information.


These speeches introduced a great number of flagship projects and international collaborations operated by the institute and organization they were affiliate d with. Topics ranged from mobile health (mHealth), affordable and sustainable health care technology, “big data” machine learning methods in healthcare sector, relevant policies and regulations, to barriers emerged from practice.


Dr Xu introduced the end to end mHealth services delivery architecture by listing ‘I Shang’, a carefully designed wearable gadget, and Remote monitoring system and service for cardiovascular conditions developed by CMRI.


Dr Clifford described how his research group is combining the latest research in artificial intelligence, with low cost sensor design and open source information infrastructures to deliver rapid and accurate healthcare support in remote regions. The current beneficiary and achievements of eHeath, said Professor Cai, is great, “It can decrease the trust cost between doctors and patients, provide an opportunity to develop social capital, and let the patients make use of their fragmented time more efficiently, thus improve their lifestyle and increase their time value.”


Yet there still lies a long and difficult way in front of all health care workers and experts from a global perspective. It is facing huge challenges today. As Professor Peiris, whose work focusing on disadvantaged populations, said, “Access to affordable, high quality health care is limited.”


One prior task is to figure out a way to increase the products of eHealth research, and enlarge the scale of resent studies. The current health system in China is even worse, as the existing social and financial barriers hold back the process of reform; the distrust between patients and doctors raise fierce disputes; and inadequate integration of the system reduces efficiency.


Solutions have been raised and put into practice, for instance,reengineering workforce, developing technology supported and evidence based care, patient centred approaches, and innovating systems strategies, to release the global burden. But more need to be done as soon as possible.


However, as the path unfolds in front of us, we can look forward to the bright future led by the eHealth and new health care system.