Objective: The OECD countries are facing a set of core challenges; an increasing elderly population; increasing number of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases; ex - panding scope of what medicine can do; and increasing lack of medical professionals. Pervasive healthcare asks how pervasive computing technology can be designed to meet these challenges. The objective of this paper is to discuss ‘pervasive healthcare’ as a research field and tries to establish how novel and distinct it is, compared to related work within biomedical engineering, medical informatics, and ubiquitous computing. Methods: The paper presents the research questions, approach, technologies, and methods of pervasive healthcare and discusses these in comparison to those of other related scientific disciplines. Results: A set of central research themes are presented; monitoring and body sensor networks; pervasive assistive technologies; pervasive computing for hospitals; and preventive and persuasive technologies. Two projects illustrate the kind of research being done in pervasive healthcare. The first project is targeted at home-based monitoring of hypertension; the second project is designing context-aware technologies for hospitals. Both projects approach the healthcare challenges in a new way, apply a new type of research method, and come up with new kinds of technological solutions. ‘Clinical proof-of-concept’ is recommended as a new method for pervasive healthcare research; the method helps design and test pervasive healthcare technolo - gies, and in ascertaining their clinical potential before large-scale clinical tests are needed. Conclusion: The paper concludes that pervasive healthcare as a research field and agenda is novel; it is addressing new emerging research questions, represents a novel approach, designs new types of technologies, and applies a new kind of research method.