Authored by: Stefaan Callens , Laura Boddez

Routledge Handbook of Medical Law and Ethics

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415628181
eBook ISBN: 9780203796184
Adobe ISBN: 9781134448654


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The international healthcare market is developing rapidly and different healthcare systems are converging. Privately financed healthcare systems pay more attention to justice and equal access. Publicly financed healthcare systems are introducing cost-efficiency techniques privately financed healthcare systems used in the past. At the same time, healthcare actors are increasingly leaving their own national borders to participate in cross-border care. With cross-border activities in healthcare growing more frequent, patients tend to be treated in other countries to avoid long waiting lists. Alongside this, consumers/patients use the Internet to search for medical information or to order medicinal products from pharmacies located in other countries. Moreover, doctors demand more and varied telematic information from their colleagues than previously. Healthcare professionals, hospitals and laboratories increasingly rely on information and communication technology (ICT) applications to disseminate health data for treatment and other purposes throughout several countries. Many healthcare institutions (like national health insurers, hospitals, laboratories, etc.) are becoming more involved on the international healthcare stage and communicate health data between member states for treatment and other purposes. Against the backdrop of these developments, e-health plays an important role in both developed and developing countries (World Health Organization (WHO) 2012a: 7). 1 1

However, the implementation of e-health services proves to be more difficult in low-income countries than in higher-income countries and emerging economies (WHO 2012b: 53).

It is clear that e-health in itself has an impact on healthcare systems and healthcare actors. Given the supportive role of ICT-development in wider systems, such as social welfare systems, it is reasonable to believe it will also influence healthcare systems.

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