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Integrated prevention of cardiovascular disease: current and future perspectives

  • Italian Society of Digital Health and Telemedicine


It is widely believed that e-Health will play an increasingly important role in shaping healthcare systems in the twentyfirst century. The raising burden of chronic diseases and the potential of e-Health in improving the quality and safety of preventive health services make e-Health a great opportunity to apply to widespread preventive intervention, particularly in the early diagnosis of atherosclerosis and the prevention of cardio- and cerebro-vascular diseases and cancers. The use of the Internet to deliver web-based interventions for patients’ education and for knowledge sharing is increasing rapidly, with an improvement in some outcomes (increased exercise time, increased knowledge of nutritional status, increased participation in healthcare programs). Moreover, a recent EU report indicates that e-Health could represent the third pillar of the health market, along with drugs and medical devices, and could rapidly grow to more than €20 billion, perhaps reaching the current €200 billion of sales in the drug market and €64 billion in medical devices. However, initiatives in this growing market have been very fragmented and their results are still controversial; the European Court of Auditors has recently recommended a more careful analysis of health progras financed from the EU budget, claiming that most projects in this field have lacked a strong design, a clear definition of scopes, and the demonstration of efficacy and sustainability.
Air pollution remains a major issue in terms of health promotion. Many are the implications and the possible strategies aimed to solve the problem. Those are mainly related to the need to prevent the exposure or effectively reduce the effects on exposed people (pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary prevention).
The rising of a new technological era has brought within it opportunities and threats the health systems worldwide have to deal with. In such a changed scenario the role of decision-makers is crucial to identify the real and perceived needs of the population and those areas on intervention in which eHealth can help to improve the quality and efficacy of care. Therefore, in-depth analysis of the state of the art both in industrialized and in developing countries is paramount. Many in fact are constraints that mine the designing and implementation of electronic systems for health. Only if policymakers understand the real implication of eHealth and the complexities of the human being, working model could be introduced. Otherwise the systems proposed will follow the same schemes that have produced failures so far. It implies also that the mutated role of the patient had to be known, together with his expectations and needs. Nevertheless, in a globalize world, a policy for eHealth have to consider also those factors that once did not strictly belong to the health context, ecology and a greener policy being some of those. In addition, as health has to be considered a universal value, the role of the developing world is today crucial: what advantages could technology bring to those areas in which the level of industrialization is still nominal? Yet, many are the opportunities that eHealth disclose to these settings, provided that a correct approach is followed, to avoid a waste of time and resources. At least, the future of eHealth has to be considered, so that long-term plans could be developed, so that the future and still unknown challenge for health could be promptly faced.
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