eHealth applications are promising and can improve health care. However, implementing new eHealth technology in health care organizations is complicated. We have performed an evaluation study among 55 health care and IT professionals with questionnaires to look for facilitators of implementation.

According to these professionals, it is important to start with a structured project plan and to put time and effort in cooperation between technicians and health care providers. Moreover, most eHealth projects require integration of different IT systems and hence different IT companies. Cooperation between them is essential for the development of the product.

The project plan serves as facilitator especially during the development process and leads to more satisfaction of involved parties with the project. The plan should contain mutual goals and agreements including financial accordance. Regular evaluation and if necessary adaption of the plan during the project is needed. The absence of a project plan leads to less satisfaction and can be a barrier for successful implementation.

Professionals with different backgrounds work together in eHealth projects and it is important to have mutual goals and to facilitate good cooperation. IT and health care professionals can enhance cooperation by organizing regular meetings. Especially during the implementation phase all parties need to have the opportunity to provide feedback, this enhances commitment of the different parties. Poor cooperation leads to less satisfaction with the end product and hence lower likelihood of using it.

Stakeholders (including patients) need to be involved during the development, the implementation and the maintenance phase of the project. Participants in this study who involved the stakeholders mentioned that the implementation phase changed based on feedback of stakeholders. There are different ways to include stakeholders including questionnaires, focus groups and test sessions. Technicians use log data to keep track of the users of the eHealth application and improvements can be made guided by this data.

eHealth is promising but it is a relatively new aspect. We can learn from successes and failures of experienced eHealth professionals. This study shows some aspects that can facilitate successful development, implementation and maintenance of eHealth projects. 

Op deze ERS congrespagina binnenkort een video waarin we Dr. Esther Metting alles vragen over dit onderzoek.

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