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Special Issue "The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Digital Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 May 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Ass. Prof. Dr. Daniela Haluza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Medical University of Vienna, Institute of Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Kinderspitalgasse 15, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
Interests: telehealth; environmental health; open innovation in science; health communication; preventive medicine; public health
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The omnipresence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the form of smartphones is a characteristic feature of today’s information society. New technological developments affect almost every sector of our daily lives including healthcare delivery and will be used to meet both current and future challenges of the dramatic increase in health expenditure for aging populations. Currently, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data to smooth the interactions between doctors and patients with ICT applications in healthcare such as electronic medical records and medical decision support systems is being investigated. However, successful adoption and sustainable integration of eHealth and telemedicine in Public Health strategies (also known as Public eHealth) is complex and depends on constant evaluation of stakeholder needs and preferences. There are still many challenges regarding practical, ethical, and legal concerns, and evidence-based approaches for ICT-supported healthcare delivery are lacking.

We invite authors to submit articles to this Special Issue on telecommunication-based healthcare related to the broader spectrum of technology-enabled medical science and the evaluation of these systems in healthcare settings (e.g., AI, remote sensing, medical informatics, healthcare management, and online learning and education). We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions as well as review articles, and the submission of research work by interdisciplinary teams and international groups is of significant interest.

Dr. Daniela Haluza, MD PhD
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • medical decision support
  • hospital information systems
  • electronic medical records
  • data security and safety
  • artificial intelligence
  • medical counselling
  • digital divide
  • patient empowerment
  • pervasive healthcare
  • health apps

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Using Digital Platforms to Promote Blood Donation: Motivational and Preliminary Evidence from Latin America and Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4270; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18084270 - 17 Apr 2021
Viewed by 845
Abstract
The lack of blood donors is a global problem that prevents the demand for blood prompted by an ageing population and increased life expectancy from being met. The aim of this study was to conduct an initial exploration of the reasons for using [...] Read more.
The lack of blood donors is a global problem that prevents the demand for blood prompted by an ageing population and increased life expectancy from being met. The aim of this study was to conduct an initial exploration of the reasons for using digital platforms in blood donation. Using a Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) framework, microdata for 389 participants from Latin American countries and Spain, and Partial Least Square-Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM), the study obtained three main prediction paths. The first two started from feelings of trust in the digital community and a positive mood state associated with a modern lifestyle, and they were linked to attitudes and behavioural control in the explanation of the intention to donate and actual blood donation. The third path started from modern lifestyles, and was linked to the subjective norm in the prediction of intention and actual donation. These paths represent one of the very first attempts to predict intentions of donation and collaborative donation by taking a PLS-SEM approach. By determining the paths underpinning collaborative blood donors’ motives, the results of this study provide strong support for the usefulness of the TPB model within the context of digital platform use and blood donation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Article
Mobile and Online Health Information: Exploring Digital Media Use among Austrian Parents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6053; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17176053 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 876
Abstract
In today’s digitalized world, most parents are Internet-savvy and use online sources for child health information, mainly due to the 24/7 availability of advice. However, parents are often not specifically trained to identify reliable, evidence-based sources of information. In this cross-sectional online survey [...] Read more.
In today’s digitalized world, most parents are Internet-savvy and use online sources for child health information, mainly due to the 24/7 availability of advice. However, parents are often not specifically trained to identify reliable, evidence-based sources of information. In this cross-sectional online survey among a purposive, non-probabilistic sample of Austrian parents (n = 90, 81.1% females), we assessed aspects of health app use and family policy benefits-related and scenario-based Internet seeking behavior. We found that the surveyed parents showed a high health app use. The participants indicated that they prefer online information seeking to any other option in a scenario describing that their child would be sick at after-work hours, with social media channels being the least preferred source of online information. Mothers and younger parents were more likely to retrieve online information on family policy benefits. With the smartphone in everybody’s pocket, parents seemed to rely on mobile and online content when searching for child health information. Pediatricians are best suited to decide what treatment fits the child or their current medical condition, but nowadays they face increasing numbers of pre-informed parents seeking health information online. Provision of targeted parental education and guidance through the online information jungle could effectively empower parents and smooth personal and digital contacts in the delicate doctor–parent–child triangle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
Article
Regional Heterogeneity of Application and Effect of Telemedicine in the Primary Care Centres in Rural China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4531; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17124531 - 24 Jun 2020
Viewed by 897
Abstract
The increasing concerns of the geographical maldistribution of medical resources have sparked worldwide interests in exploring the potential of telemedicine in the rural health system. This study aimed to investigate the application and effect of telemedicine as well as their regional heterogeneity in [...] Read more.
The increasing concerns of the geographical maldistribution of medical resources have sparked worldwide interests in exploring the potential of telemedicine in the rural health system. This study aimed to investigate the application and effect of telemedicine as well as their regional heterogeneity in the primary care centres in rural China. Based on the stratified multistage cluster sampling, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 358 township health centres (THCs) from eastern, central and western China. A self-administered questionnaire was used and the data of the Health Statistical Annual Reports in 2017 were collected to investigate the implication of telemedicine as well as the performance and other characteristics of each THCs. Propensity score matching was used to estimate the effect of telemedicine application on the bed occupancy rate and the number of annual outpatient visits of the THCs, with comparison among the regions. The overall prevalence of telemedicine application was 58.66% in 2017, and it was found to increase the bed occupancy rate of the THCs in the national range (p < 0.1). When divided into different regions, telemedicine was found to improve the number of annual outpatient visits in western China (p < 0.05) and the bed occupancy rate in eastern China (p < 0.1). Disparities in the degree of remoteness and the capability of THCs among the regions were also found in this study, which may be the reasons for the regional heterogeneous effects of telemedicine. These findings suggested the potential of telemedicine in improving the utilization of primary care centres in rural areas. Further studies were needed to investigate the underlying reasons for its regional heterogeneous effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
Article
Google Medical Update: Why Is the Search Engine Decreasing Visibility of Health and Medical Information Websites?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1160; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17041160 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1927
Abstract
The Google search engine answers many health and medical information queries every day. People have become used to searching for this type of information. This paper presents a study which examined the visibility of health and medical information websites. The purpose of this [...] Read more.
The Google search engine answers many health and medical information queries every day. People have become used to searching for this type of information. This paper presents a study which examined the visibility of health and medical information websites. The purpose of this study was to find out why Google is decreasing the visibility of such websites and how to measure this decrease. Since August 2018, Google has been more rigorously rating these websites, since they can potentially impact people’s health. The method of the study was to collect data about the visibility of health and medical information websites in sequential time snapshots. Visibility consists of combined data of unique keywords, positions, and URL results. The sample under study was made up of 21 websites selected from 10 European countries. The findings reveal that in sequential time snapshots, search visibility decreased. The decrease was not dependent on the country or the language. The main reason why Google is decreasing the visibility of such websites is that they do not meet high ranking criteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Article
Analysis of Answers to Queries among Anonymous Users with Gastroenterological Problems on an Internet Forum
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1042; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17031042 - 06 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2059
Abstract
Internet forums are an attractive source of health-related information. We aimed to investigate threads in the gastroenterological section of a popular Polish medical forum for anonymous users. We characterised the following aspects in threads: the main problem of the original poster, declared ailments [...] Read more.
Internet forums are an attractive source of health-related information. We aimed to investigate threads in the gastroenterological section of a popular Polish medical forum for anonymous users. We characterised the following aspects in threads: the main problem of the original poster, declared ailments and rationale of the responses (rational, neutral, harmful or not related to the problem of the original poster). We analysed over 2717 forum threads initiated in the years 2010–2018. Users mostly asked for diagnosis of the problem [1814 (66.8%)], treatment [1056 (38.9%)] and diagnostic interpretation [308 (11.3%)]. The most commonly declared symptoms were abdominal pain [1046 (38.5%)], diarrhea [454 (16.7%)] and bloating [354 (13.0%)]. Alarm symptoms were mentioned in 309 (11.4%) threads. From the total 3550 responses, 1257 (35.4%) were assessed as rational, 693 (19.5%) as neutral, 157 (4.4%) as harmful and 1440 (40.6%) as not related to the user’s problem. The original poster’s declaration of blood in stool, dyspepsia, pain in the abdominal right lower quadrant, weight loss or inflammatory bowel disease was positively related to obtaining at least one potentially harmful response. Advice from anonymous users on Internet forums may be irrational and disregards alarm symptoms, which can delay the diagnosis of life-threatening diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Article
“Dr. Google, I am in Pain”—Global Internet Searches Associated with Pain: A Retrospective Analysis of Google Trends Data
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 954; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17030954 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2111
Abstract
We aimed to rank the most common locations of pain among Google users globally and locally and analyze secular and seasonal trends in pain-related searches in the years 2004–2019. We used data generated by Google Trends (GT) to identify and analyze global interest [...] Read more.
We aimed to rank the most common locations of pain among Google users globally and locally and analyze secular and seasonal trends in pain-related searches in the years 2004–2019. We used data generated by Google Trends (GT) to identify and analyze global interest in topics (n = 24) related to locations of pain and how these progressed over time. We analyzed secular trends and time series decomposition to identify seasonal variations. We also calculated the interest in all topics with reference to the relative search volume (RSV) of “Abdominal pain”. Google users were most commonly interested in “Headache” (1.30 [times more frequently than “Abdominal pain”]), “Abdominal pain” (1.00), and “Back pain” (0.84). “Headache” was the most frequent search term in n = 41 countries, while “Abdominal pain” was the most frequent term in n = 27 countries. The interest in all pain-related topics except “Dyspareunia” increased over time. The sharpest increase was observed for “Abdominal pain” (5.67 RSV/year), and “Toothache” (5.52 RSV/year). Most of the topics revealed seasonal variations. Among pain-related topics, “Headache,” “Abdominal pain,” and “Back pain” interested most Google users. GT is a novel tool that allows retrospective investigation of complaints among Internet users. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Article
Heartburn-Related Internet Searches and Trends of Interest across Six Western Countries: A Four-Year Retrospective Analysis Using Google Ads Keyword Planner
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4591; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16234591 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
The internet is becoming the main source of health-related information. We aimed to investigate data regarding heartburn-related searches made by Google users from Australia, Canada, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We retrospectively analyzed data from Google Ads Keywords Planner. [...] Read more.
The internet is becoming the main source of health-related information. We aimed to investigate data regarding heartburn-related searches made by Google users from Australia, Canada, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We retrospectively analyzed data from Google Ads Keywords Planner. We extracted search volumes of keywords associated with “heartburn” for June 2015 to May 2019. The data were generated in the respective primary language. The number of searches per 1000 Google-user years was as follows: 177.4 (Australia), 178.1 (Canada), 123.8 (Germany), 199.7 (Poland), 152.5 (United Kingdom), and 194.5 (United States). The users were particularly interested in treatment (19.0 to 41.3%), diet (4.8 to 10.7%), symptoms (2.6 to 13.1%), and causes (3.7 to 10.0%). In all countries except Germany, the number of heartburn-related queries significantly increased over the analyzed period. For Canada, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom, query numbers were significantly lowest in summer; there was no significant seasonal trend for Australia and the United States. The number of heartburn-related queries has increased over the past four years, and a seasonal pattern may exist in certain regions. The trends in heartburn-related searches may reflect the scale of the complaint, and should be verified through future epidemiological studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Article
Dementia Patient Segmentation Using EMR Data Visualization: A Design Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3438; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16183438 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1404
Abstract
(1) Background: The Electronic Medical Record system, which is a digital medical record management architecture, is critical for reliable medical research. It facilitates the investigation of disease patterns and efficient treatment via collaboration with data scientists. (2) Methods: In this study, we present [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The Electronic Medical Record system, which is a digital medical record management architecture, is critical for reliable medical research. It facilitates the investigation of disease patterns and efficient treatment via collaboration with data scientists. (2) Methods: In this study, we present multidimensional visual tools for the analysis of multidimensional datasets via a combination of 3-dimensional radial coordinate visualization (3D RadVis) and many-objective optimization (e.g., Parallel Coordinates). Also, we propose a user-driven research design to facilitate visualization. We followed a design process to (1) understand the demands of domain experts, (2) define the problems based on relevant works, (3) design visualization, (4) implement visualization, and (5) enable qualitative evaluation by domain experts. (3) Results: This study provides clinical insight into dementia based on EMR data via visual analysis. Results of a case study based on questionnaires surveying daily living activities indicated that daily behaviors influenced the progression of dementia. (4) Conclusions: This study provides a visual analytical tool to support cluster segmentation. Using this tool, we segmented dementia patients into clusters and interpreted the behavioral patterns of each group. This study contributes to biomedical data interpretation based on a visual approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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Review

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Review
Information Is Selection—A Review of Basics Shows Substantial Potential for Improvement of Digital Information Representation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2975; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17082975 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1061
Abstract
Any piece of information is a selection from a set of possibilities. In this paper, this set is called a “domain”. Digital information consists of number sequences, which are selections from a domain. At present, these number sequences are defined contextually in a [...] Read more.
Any piece of information is a selection from a set of possibilities. In this paper, this set is called a “domain”. Digital information consists of number sequences, which are selections from a domain. At present, these number sequences are defined contextually in a very variable way, which impairs their comparability. Therefore, global uniformly defined “domain vectors” (DVs), with a structure containing a “Uniform Locator” (“UL”), referred to as “UL plus number sequence”, are proposed. The “UL” is an efficient global pointer to the uniform online definition of the subsequent number sequence. DVs are globally defined, identified, comparable, and searchable by criteria which users can define online. In medicine, for example, patients, doctors, and medical specialists can define DVs online and can, therefore, form global criteria which are important for certain diagnoses. This allows for the immediate generation of precise diagnostic specific statistics of “similar medical cases”, in order to discern the best therapy. The introduction of a compact DV data structure may substantially improve the digital representation of medical information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Healthcare: Telemedicine, Public eHealth, and Big Data)
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