The field of e-Health holds promise for supporting and enabling health behaviour change and the prevention and management of chronic disease.
In order to establish areas of congruence and controversy among contributors to the early development, evaluation, and dissemination of e-Health applications, as well as the desire to inform an evaluation research funding agenda, 38 semi structured, qualitative interviews were conducted among stakeholders in e-Health between May 2002 and September 2003.
Participants were asked about their perspectives on the credibility, value, and future potential of information technology for health behaviour change and chronic disease management. Interviews were coded and analyzed for emergent themes using qualitative methods.
Consistent themes were identified across stakeholder groups, with slight differences in emphasis. These topics included the following: (1) consensus and standardization – most stakeholders expressed a strong desire for a more coordinated, rigorous effort to define and integrate the field; (2) evaluation methods and challenges – demonstrating outcomes is required to establish e-Health quality and efficacy, but stakeholders were not satisfied with the sensitivity, validity, and reliability of existing outcome measures; (3) quality, value, and future potential—the intersection between e-Health’s potential cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and improved clinical status among users generated a high degree of interest; (4) health disparities—many stakeholders contended that traditionally underserved populations will particularly benefit from e-Health applications, although others argued that the underserved are also disadvantaged in terms of access to technology.
Recommendations included the need for improvement and formalization of development and evaluation standards across private and public sectors, additional research on the technology needs and preferences of traditionally underserved populations, and long-term epidemiologic studies of the impact of e-Health on outcomes and cost-effectiveness.
Article originally appeared in: “Journal of Medical Internet Research”, V. 8, n. 1, Art. e4. Reprinted with permission.