By Anne Snowdon, RN, PhD, FAAN, Director of Clinical Research, HIMSS Analytics
Over the past 60 years, HIMSS has been a leader in the healthcare industry – from the introduction of mainframe computers in health systems, to the early emergence of health technology used primarily by hospital IT departments, to the era of ehealth and creation of electronic health records (EHRs). Through all these changes, HIMSS has been at the forefront. The industry is now on the verge of a new age, called “digital health.”
This term, while popular, has morphed into an over-used and misunderstood buzzword, one that’s mistakenly interchanged with other distinct terms, such as mhealth, virtual health, etc. Earlier this year, industry media noted that the lack of a clear definition may even be holding the sector back. After research, personal interactions and broad feedback from HIMSS’s 80,000 members around the world, it has become clear that the time is now for a comprehensive, yet focused, definition of digital health.
I’m pleased to announce that today HIMSS is releasing a new definition of digital health to serve as a benchmark for the global health community. It is as follows:
Digital health connects and empowers people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by accessible and supportive provider teams working within flexible, integrated, interoperable and digitally-enabled care environments that strategically leverage digital tools, technologies and services to transform care delivery.
In the past, HIMSS has defined other healthcare terms, such as interoperability, which are now used broadly throughout the industry – with a common understanding. Our intention is that this definition of digital health will become standard for the industry.
We believe that a universally accepted description and understanding of digital health will provide a foundation to transform traditional healthcare systems from a model where patients are recipients of care, to digital health ecosystems that empower consumers to self-manage their health and wellness. Over the next year, we’ll work with members, partners and other stakeholders to refine and build consensus for this definition of digital health.
Health systems are at a crossroads—they are facing financial and resource limitations, while consumers are looking for more personalized care. The digitally enabled health system of the future focuses on health and wellness, and is the key to connecting consumers to health systems that will have a transformational impact on care delivery and quality.