From eHealth for ‘illnesscare’ to the eHealth for healthcare


Now that Health 2.0 Europe is bound to begin in two days, it is time to recall a personal impression on what has been happening with the use of new technologies and communication channels during these last years: all the innovation that they are supposed to bring is not arriving to the people that most need it.

Truth is that all the hype created is now in its plateau and many of the fast track initiatives in the field have waned or have been abandoned because of lack of engagement and real use.

Much has been said about the need to design apps and websites with the user needs in mind. But truth is that no market research, no design principle perfectly applied, no marketing campaign perfectly implemented is going to succeed if the same healthcare business model and paradigm is going to be kept.

This model consists in providing products and services for the ‘illnesscare’  but now with 2.0 approaches. Is it not having more success than the 1.0 approach. And, according to the number of petitions of publicity I am receiving at this edition of Health 2.0 Europe, it seems that the business machinery is determined to insist in this way and replicate a wasting 2.0 system that does not satisfy anyone, as the real use of mHealth reveals.

This seem to happen because the utility measure in the intersection of medicine, technology and behavior is health and the producers of it are the same persons called patients in the other model. Many of the apps and designs made under the Health 2.0 umbrella lack the main principle needed to engage a person: authonomy, relevance and capacity.

Some say that this is changing now that we are in the plateau of the hype and that only those apps that have designed thinking in the patient needs will survive. I doubt it. Simply because, in the end what all these apps provide to the people is more assymetric dependency on expensive and inefficient healthcare systems. Its an electronic biomedicalization that doesn’t take into account the importance of inner belief, personality and context as drivers of behavior.

These are the reasons why the great majority of Health 2.0 approaches don’t take into account the determinants of health in their designs.  This only  reproduces the vicious cycle whereby lack of digital access or the inability to make beneficial use,  reinforces and amplifies existing disadvantage. This phenomenon and some suggestions for better building health 2.0 proposals have been well documented by Francisco Lupiañez in his study in 14 EU Countries.

It will be interesting to contrast these views, see the evolution and learn how to achieve the necessary eHealth for health.

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