There seems to be a consensus emerging in the literature about how one would categorize the benefits of eHealth. As we move further with the evaluation of eHealth initiatives, it is important to agree on definitions and categories, and to establish measures for each of these benefits. This will help us to compare projects and help health care managers to develop solid business cases for their eHealth projects.
The categories are:
Improved Productivity: increased efficiency, reduced duplication of tests and procedures, cost reduction/avoidance/containment, support to program reform and health system change management.
Improved Access: easier access to health services in remote or under serviced areas, reduction in wait-times for medical and surgical procedures, improved access to data for research.
Improved Quality: improved patient health outcomes, improved population health outcomes, reduction in preventable adverse events, patient empowerment, improved patient satisfaction, improved privacy and security, enhanced accountability.
We continue to have a challenge coming up with quantifiable measures for eHealth benefits that are comparable across a range of eHealth initiatives. This is a particular problem with the assertion that eHealth can help to improve patient and population health outcomes and improve patient safety. The literature is very sketchy on these subjects and even conflicted on the issue of patient safety. Defining benefits and their measures is an essential task to complete if we are to justify the investments being made in eHealth infrastructure and applications.