eHealth in cardiovascular medicine: A clinical update

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Abstract

Demographic changes, progress in medicine technology and regional problems in providing healthcare to low density populations are posing great challenges to our healthcare systems. Rapid progress in computer sciences and information technologies have a great impact on the way healthcare will be delivered in the near future. This article describes opportunities and challenges of eHealth and telemedicine in the framework of our health systems and, in particular, in the context of today's cardiology services. The most promising applications of eHealth and telemedicine include: (a) prevention and lifestyle interventions; (b) chronic disease management including hypertension, diabetes and heart failure; (c) arrhythmia detection including early detection of atrial fibrillation and telemonitoring of devices such as pacemaker, internal cardioverter defibrillators and implantable rhythm monitoring devices; (d) telerehabilitation. Major obstacles to the integration of eHealth and telemedicine into daily clinical practice include limited large-scale evidence, in particular, for cost-effectiveness, as well as lack of interoperability, inadequate or fragmented legal frameworks and lack of reimbursement. An important challenge for those involved in these new technologies will be to keep the main focus on patient's individual needs and to carefully evaluate the evidence behind the practice.

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