Perceived value of eHealth among people living with multimorbidity: a qualitative study

Sidsel M. Runz-Jørgensen, Michaela L. Schiøtz, Ulla Christensen

Abstract


Background: The prevalence of multimorbidity is increasing, creating challenges for patients, healthcare professionals, and healthcare systems. Given that chronic disease management increasingly involves eHealth, it is useful to assess its perceived value among people with multimorbidity. Objective: To explore challenges related to multimorbidity and patients’ perspectives on eHealth. Design: Ten semi-structured interviews with adults, living with multimorbidity in Copenhagen, Denmark. Interviews focused on patients’ experienced challenges, from challenges related to self-management to challenges experienced in the healthcare sector, as well as perceptions of eHealth. During interviews, participants were presented with pictures of different eHealth technologies. Data analysis followed the systematic text condensation approach. Results: Participants experienced challenges in their daily lives, e.g. when practicing self-management activities, when navigating the healthcare sector, and when interacting with healthcare professionals. Patient-perceived value of eHealth varied, depending on their burden of illness and treatment: those with a greater burden had more positive perceptions of eHealth, and expressed more intention to use it. Participants with less complex disease patterns and less burdensome treatment regimens were more likely to perceive eHealth as something worthless and undesirable. Participants stressed that eHealth should only be introduced as an optional supplement. Conclusions: eHealth can potentially address some patient-experienced challenges related to multimorbidity by promoting self-management, patient-centeredness, and access. However, patients’ needs and preferences vary and eHealth cannot substitute the personal interaction between patient and healthcare professionals. Our findings point to the importance of patient assessment and stratification to ensure appropriate use of eHealth.

Journal of Comorbidity 2017;7(1):96–111


Keywords


chronic illness, comorbidity, eHealth, needs assessment, patient care management, qualitative research, self-management, telemedicine

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15256/joc.2017.7.98

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    ISSN 2235-042X