The Role of eHealth in Supporting Care Coordination
All western industrialised nations face important new challenges in meeting the long-term health and social care needs of their populations. Over the past two decades, an important demographic and epidemiological transition has taken place. Age-related and long-term chronic illnesses have replaced communicable diseases as the biggest challenge that health systems must now address. More than half of the growing number of people aged over 65 in Europe are living with more than three chronic conditions, and about one-fifth have five or more concurrent health problems (Anderson and Horvath, 2004). This shift means that the economic burden of age-related chronic illness represents between 75–80 per cent of healthcare expenditure, a figure that is also expected to rise as society ages (Nolte and McKee, 2008). Current health and care systems, however, appear to be ill equipped to meet the challenge as they have developed systemic and institutional structures that focus on cure rather than care. As a result, and particularly in an era of economic uncertainty, most countries and regions have begun the search for new and more integrated care models — supported by technological innovation — that place the emphasis on preventing ill health, supporting self-care and delivering care closer to people’s homes.
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