Information Society Technologies in Healthcare

Stelios C. Orphanoudakis, FORTH

The growing demand for more efficient and effective healthcare services, coupled with an implicit requirement for supporting citizen mobility and continuity of care, is currently setting the stage for the exploitation of Information and Telecommunications Technologies in the healthcare sector. The current vision in the healthcare sector comprises affordable wireless access to healthcare resources and services for all citizens, thus making medical expertise a shared resource wherever and whenever needed. Important areas in which Information Society Technologies are likely to have a significant impact include those of pre-hospital health emergencies, remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions, and medical collaboration through sharing of health-related information resources. Accessibility to these and other media-rich user-oriented services, in the context of the emerging Global Information Society, will be supported by a Healthcare Information Infrastructure (HII) which can achieve effective horizontal integration of networked information sources.

The great challenge in applying information and telecommunications technologies in the healthcare sector is how to be creative in exploiting the opportunities afforded by these emerging technologies, so that we may improve peoples’ lives, while providing clinically significant and cost-effective added-value telematic services to the healthcare community. At the same time, we need to ensure that the potential benefit to be derived from technological advances also finds its way to the scene of an accident, the (virtual) home, and the (virtual) working place of all citizens.

The healthcare sector can serve as the testbed for assessing the impact which new information and telecommunication technologies will have on our lives. For the past several years, we have witnessed revolutionary technological developments, which afford us a pragmatic look into our digital future. However, the stringent requirements for quality of service will make the process of change in the healthcare sector evolutionary rather than revolutionary. A plethora of unresolved technical, economic, regulatory, legal, and training issues will have to be settled before the real impact of technological change in this important sector can be fully assessed.

The presentation of Professor Stelios Orphanoudakis (ICS-FORTH) on “Information Society Technologies in Healthcare” will address these issues, focusing on the challenges and opportunities for Europe.