What do patients say a future eHealth service needs?

The use of digital apps and wearables to track our health information is on the rise. Thus, eHealth is a resource that may promote health management and patient engagement.

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There is a possibility that innovative eHealth solutions can offer support following hospital discharge for people with chronic illness. If such a solution is to be sucThe use of digital apps and wearables to track our health information is on the rise. Thus, eHealth is a resource that may promote health management and patient engagement.cessful, those who will use the app/service need to be included in the design and development.

At the University of Stavanger, the PROhealth research group (eHealth @ Hospital-2-Home | University of Stavanger (uis.no) is in the middle of conducting a research project, which is doing exactly that. They have developed an eHealth digital application which is supported by nurses. The research project is called eHealth@Hospital-2-Home and includes three phases. The two first phases, 1) the design and development of the digital application and 2) the feasibility study are completed.

As a part of the design and development phase of the eHealth service, an interview study was conducted. Patients from two prominent long-term chronic illness groups (heart failure and colorectal cancer), in addition to nurses and general practitioners, were invited to share their experiences and perspectives on patients´ self-management needs following hospital discharge. The participants were also encouraged to share their thoughts on the design and content of a future eHealth service aimed at supporting patients following a hospital admission.

The PROhealth group includes, Hege Wathne, an experienced intensive care nurse and PhD-student. Hege has led on an article, which shares the findings from the interview study. It is free to read by clicking on this link

Both patients and clinicians reported that a valuable component to eHealth is personal interaction and further illness education.

In brief it can be summarized by sharing what patients (with heart failure or colorectal cancer) and healthcare professionals said.

Participants with heart failure and colorectal cancer reported: The time after a hospitalization was challenging and uncertain. Participants (patients from both heart failure and colorectal cancer) were observed to have diverse needs for self-management support after hospital discharge, such as advice on symptoms and possible complications, necessary precautions, the importance of restitution and nutrition and how to deal with existential worries and fear. They also said, for them key design elements and content for a future eHealth service included: 1) continuous information, reassurance, and guidance; 2) any eHealth application should be comprehensible and easy to use, and 3) should include a personal interaction and promote illness knowledge through education.

The nurses and general practitioners agreed with the patients. Stating that digital applications should; 1) promote patients’ knowledge of their illness and have a personal interaction function, for example chat and video; and 2) raised the importance of checklists and various home monitoring devices to supplement the patients´ self-reports.

The next step in the eHealth@Hospital-2-Home project, was to assess the feasibility and pilot the service. The research results from the feasibility study are currently being analyzed. However, if you want to learn a little more about the eHealth@Hospital-2-Home intervention, please watch this video from NRK where participants in the feasibility study and the researchers were interviewed (Distriktsnyheter Rogaland – 9. feb. kl. 19:45 – NRK TV).