Saturday, April 01, 2006

What Is eHealth : Perspectives on the Evolution of eHealth Research

Journal of Medical Internet Research - What Is eHealth (6): Perspectives on the Evolution of eHealth Research

Interesting article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research by David K Ahern, Jennifer M Kreslake & Judith M Phalen, which reports 38 semistructured, qualitative interviews conducted among US stakeholders in eHealth between May 2002 and September 2003.

They found that consistent themes were identified across stakeholder groups, with slight differences in emphasis. These topics included the following:
* consensus and standardization—most stakeholders expressed a strong desire for a more coordinated, rigorous effort to define and integrate the field;
* evaluation methods and challenges—demonstrating outcomes is required to establish eHealth quality and efficacy, but stakeholders were not satisfied with the sensitivity, validity, and reliability of existing outcome measures;
* quality, value, and future potential—the intersection between eHealth’s potential cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and improved clinical status among users generated a high degree of interest; and
* health disparities—many stakeholders contended that traditionally underserved populations will particularly benefit from eHealth applications, although others argued that the underserved are also disadvantaged in terms of access to technology.

Their 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 eHealth on outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

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