3. What is a health technology?

What is a health technology?

Technology can be defined as the application of a branch of knowledge for practical purposes. There are several definitions for Health technology, e.g. An intervention developed to prevent, diagnose or treat medical conditions; promote health; provide rehabilitation; or organize healthcare delivery[1] (http://www.inahta.org/) or ‘A health technology is the application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives (WHO)’. For the purpose of this course, we are using the definition from INAHTA.

The term ‘health technology’, therefore, can be used to refer to many different interventions in a healthcare system. Examples include:

Prevention and rehabilitation interventions (e.g., vaccination programmes).

● Systems within which health is protected and maintained.

Procedures (such as surgery).

● Medicines.

● Medical devices.

● Health tech (short for health technology) is a sector encompassing digital products and services that are designed to improve health and/or the provision of healthcare.

In a report commissioned by the UK Office for Life Sciences [2], Deloitte divides the health tech market (or ‘digital health market’ as it is referred to in the report) into four sub-sectors :

Telehealthcare (telecare and telehealth): technologies that enable patients to access support and assistance remotely.

mHealth: mobile phone apps and wearable devices.

Health analytics: software that can assimilate big data.

Digitised health systems: technologies that can store digital health information and allow the exchange of digitised patient medical records.

[1] Facey K. Technology. INAHTA Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Glossary [Internet]. Stockholm, Sweden: International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment; 2006. Available from https://htaglossary.net/HomePage

[2] Digital Health in the UK. An industry study for the Office of Life Sciences. September 2015. Digital health in the UK: an industry study for the Office of Life Sciences (publishing.service.gov.uk)