BACKGROUND: During the last decades, health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies became of considerable relevance for new informatics-based forms of diagnosis, prevention, and therapy.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the state of the art of health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies in 1992 and today, and its evolution over the last 25 years as well as to project where the field is expected to be in the next 25 years. In the context of this review, we define health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies as ambiently used sensor-based information and communication technologies, aiming at contributing to a person's health and health care as well as to her or his quality of life.
METHODS: Systematic review of all original articles with research focus in all volumes of the IMIA Yearbook of Medical Informatics. Surveying authors independently on key projects and visions as well as on their lessons learned in the context of health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies and summarizing their answers. Surveying authors independently on their expectations for the future and summarizing their answers.
RESULTS: IMIA Yearbook papers containing statements on health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies appear first in 2002. These papers form a minor part of published research articles in medical informatics. However, during recent years the number of articles published has increased significantly. Key projects were identified. There was a clear progress on the use of technologies. However proof of diagnostic relevance and therapeutic efficacy remains still limited. Reforming health care processes and focussing more on patient needs are required.
CONCLUSIONS: Health-enabling and ambient assistive technologies remain an important field for future health care and for interdisciplinary research. More and more publications assume that a person's home and their interaction therein, are becoming important components in health care provision, assessment, and management.