E-health helps to keep healthcare accessible and affordable. Thanks to e-health people can live longer independently at home, with more individual control. At the same time it saves valuable time for care professionals, so that they can be where they are indispensable.

What are e-health applications?

E-health includes digital applications and care technologies that provide patient care and/or support. There are already many different kinds of e-health applications, including screen care, medication dispensers, lifestyle monitoring, robots and fall sensors. A list of examples is given at the bottom of this page.

Upscaling, developing and implementing e-health at ZonMw

Smart ICT solutions can help people stay active for as long as possible, keep up social links and live independently. ZonMw has developed a variety of e-health programmes.

Home e-health incentive scheme (Stimuleringsregeling E-health thuis, SET)

The Home e-health incentive scheme (SET) was a funding programme for upscaling existing e-health applications that facilitated patient support or home care, ensuring that e-health was used more and used better. It meant that elderly people and those with a (risk of) chronic disease or handicap could live fuller lives and live at home independently for longer. The SET ran from 2019 until 2022, so many care organisations have now had first-hand experience of upscaling e-health at home. Learn about the results and experiences of SET organisations.

Zorg voor innoveren (‘Care for innovation’)

Zorg voor innoveren is a partnership between five governmental organisations whose knowledge of the Dutch healthcare system and presence as a single point of contact facilitates care innovators in developing their innovations. The complexity of the Dutch care landscape makes it difficult for care innovators to find their way through the system; Zorg voor innoveren offers help.

Active and Assisted living (AAL)

The aim of the AAL funding programme is to use ICT solutions to maintain the quality of life in elderly people, and to enable them to live independently for as long as possible, even if they begin to experience physical and/or mental impairments. The needs and wishes of elderly people and their family carers form the starting point of this research and their continuing involvement is a common thread that runs through the whole programme.

E-health and prevention

The combination of e-health and prevention is of great potential value. It can contribute towards improved health skills, self-control, self-reliance and behavioural change. Two good examples of a ZonMw-funded e-health application are:

  • The SaNAE webtool for preventing infections in elderly people. The researchers intend the implementation of the SaNAE webtool to contribute towards the prevention of infection and towards a healthy social network amongst older people.
  • The Amsterdam PrEP project: A research study of the applicability of PrEP for HIV prevention in the Netherlands. PrEP is a medicinal pill containing HIV inhibitors that can prevent an HIV infection. The pill is intended for people who do not have HIV, but who run a raised risk of infection. An app measures how people take the pill; the study examines which factors affect the ideal intake of this medicine (compliance).

E-health in hospitals

E-health can be used at home but also in hospitals. Examples of ZonMw-funded projects include:

  • The development of an ‘AB assistant’, a digital antibiotic stewardship app. This app helps medics to prescribe innovative, standardised antimicrobial therapy per country and per hospital. Erasmus MC is developing and evaluating the AB assistant.
  • The Participatient app for urinary catheter use (LUMC). This app involves patients in decisions on the use of a urinary catheter, in order to reduce use frequency and consequent urinary tract infections – thereby reducing illness burden, antibiotic usage and hospital stays.

Long-term care and e-health

E-health can play a valuable role in long-term care, which is concerned not just with the physical condition but also with the overall well-being of clients who need continuous (intensive) care in their near surroundings. This includes people with a chronic illness, the vulnerable elderly and people with severe mental or physical impairments or disorders. E-health can support these people and their professional caregivers and/or family carers, and can also be employed as part of an appropriate care approach.

Examples of e-health applications

  • Personal alarm: a device can raise an alarm from home, and if necessary also from outside the home, in an emergency.
  • Lifestyle monitoring: sensors and algorithms that register deviations from daily activities and can raise an alarm on this basis.
  • Fall sensors: sensors that detect a fall and raise an alarm.
  • Screen care: screen contact between client and care professional, either following an alarm or as a social function.
  • Telemonitoring: the remote registration of physiological parameters or client-filled questionnaires. Another example is an app in which travellers can record health complaints, allowing rapid insight into the movements of viruses from different countries.
  • Wound care app: an app that helps the client to perform, monitor and attune wound care.
  • Medication dispensing: a medicine dispenser that automatically supplies pills and tablets at the correct moment, in the correct combinations and at the correct dosages.
  • Electronic dispensation registration: this results in fewer medication errors and improved compliance.
  • Smart locks: solutions for digital lock operation.
  • Communication platforms: between professionals and client: online communication platform for the improved attunement of care and support between client, care professionals and family carers. Neighbourhood: online communication platform to promote social contacts in the neighbourhood. Palliative care: online communication platform for palliative care.
  • Robots: robot pets or social care robots are soft toys that react to their surroundings, e.g. by moving or making sounds.

Check out the RVO website for more information on e-health applications.