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ITU-T SG 16 Work on E-health - Definition of some terms related to e-health technologies

Term Definition
E-health [Mitchel/1999] The combined use in the health sector of electronic communication and information technology (digital data transmitted, stored and retrieved electronically) for clinical, educational and administrative purposes, both at the local site and at a distance.

[Eysenbach/2001] “e-health is an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies. In a broader sense, the term characterizes not only a technical development, but also a state-of-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve health care locally, regionally, and worldwide by using information and communication technology.”

Health Telematics [WHO/1997] a composite term for health-related activities, services and systems, carried out over a distance by means of information and communications technologies, for the purposes of global health promotion, disease control, and health care, as well as education, management, and research for health.

[G7/1999] the combined use of informatics and telecommunications as applied to health delivery.

Telehealth [ACDHFS/1996] The application of information technology and telecommunications for diagnostic and treatment services, educational and support services and the organization and management of health services (including health information management and decision support systems).

[USDHHS/2001] The use of electronic information and communication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.

InteroperabilityIn the telecommunications sense, interoperability is the capability of systems to talk to each other either directly or via an adaptation function. In the e-health context it also relates to the interchangeability of records across systems, which many times involve handling different nomenclatures.

Telemedicine [WHO/1997] The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by health care professionals using information and communications technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interest of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.


World Health Organization unpublished document, WHO/DGO/98.01, A Health Telematics policy: in support of the WHO’s Health-for-All strategy for global health development, report of the WHO Group Consultation on Health Telematics, 11-16, December, Geneva, 1997.

G7 Information –society Initiative, The evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of Telemedicine; G8 Global Healthcare Applications Programme subproject 4, third Forum Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 1999

Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services, Project for rural health communications and information technologies, Telehealth in rural and remote Australia, 1996

US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration, Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, 2001 Telemedicine Report to Congress, Jan 2001.

Mitchell J, From Telehealth to e-health: the unstoppable rise of e-health, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, 1999 [Eysenbach/2001]
Gunther Eysenbach - Editorial in Journal of Medical Internet Research 2001;3(2):e20