The importance of eHealth innovations : Lessons about patient accessible information

Abstract: Access to digital information and communication has an increasing importance in both the work of healthcare professionals and in patients’ everyday life and has transformed what we do and how we carry out activities. It changes the way in which healthcare is delivered, how information is exchanged within and between organizations and how patients and other actors access and manage information. Currently, innovation is imperative in the healthcare sector and today there is a focus on how different eHealth services can improve healthcare. With increased access to various eHealth services, there is a need to know more about the impact of eHealth innovations on healthcare.The aim of this thesis is to acquire more knowledge about eHealth innovations in healthcare. The focus is on prerequisites to realize innovative eHealth services and eHealth services that provide patients with access to health information. The theoretical background addresses innovation, services and business models. This thesis is a compilatory work and includes five qualitative research papers. The first study is an interview study, the second is a literature review and the remaining three are case studies. The data collection consisted of interviews, surveys, workshops and secondary data collected from documents. The interview study and the case studies were performed in the Swedish eHealth setting.The research contributes to our understanding of eHealth innovations with insights on prerequisites to realize eHealth innovations and knowledge on patient accessible information. The first study provides a classification of prerequisites that need to be considered to realize innovative eHealth services. When dealing with eHealth services, organizational and sematic interoperability are still a challenge, and they transcend organizational boundaries. This thesis provides knowledge on the recent trend of opening up electronic health records to patients. The knowledge derived from the studies on patient accessible electronic health records show that there is a discrepancy between the perceptions of patients and healthcare professionals. The thesis concludes that patients feel more involved and that the patient-professional relationship improves with patient access to electronic health records, whereas healthcare professionals have concerns about how patients will manage access to health information. This thesis also provides empirical insights on how business models can be represented in a public eHealth setting. By viewing public eHealth services as social innovations, the thesis contributes to the research on business models in a public healthcare setting by incorporating societal value into the representation of the business model.The research in this thesis contributes to research in health informatics by discussing issues related to eHealth innovations and patient accessible information. Its practical importance lies in identifying issues that are important when discussing eHealth initiatives and the implications of giving patients online access to their electronic health record.