Enhancing sexual health services through E-health technology

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E-health, a relatively recent term in use since the year 2000, has become a global topic with many western national healthcare services viewing extensive e-health infrastructures and systems as central to the future provision of safe, efficient, high quality, citizen-centred health care.

The World Health Organization defines E-health as being the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research.

With its ability to facilitate information dissemination and encourage interaction and collaboration among institutions, health professionals, health providers and the public, the scope of E-health is broadening, particularly as governments around the world are struggling to cope with growing healthcare costs.

E-health initiatives also have the potential to address the challenges of providing efficient, accessible and cost-effective sexual health care as discussed in a commentary published in BMC Public Health by Section Editor of the journal Victor Minichiello and co-authors Saifur Rahman, Tinashe Dune, John Scott and Gary Dowsett.

Victor Minichiello and colleagues use the dimensions of the RE-AIM model (reach, efficacy, adoption, implementation and maintenance) as a guiding principle to discuss potentials of E-health in providing and accessing sexual health services. They present the benefits, drawbacks and challenges of the provision of e-sexual health as well as recommend ways of addressing emerging issues in future research and practice.

There are many issues within the area of e-sexual health such as engaging target groups, eliminating health disparities, communication inequalities and assuring quality of information which will need to be addressed in future research. However, E-health technology can enhance sexual health services so that consumers are encouraged to engage with information technology and their health care providers to enhance their sexual health knowledge and quality of life.