Implementation science approaches for integrating eHealth research into practice and policy

Int J Med Inform. 2014 Jul;83(7):e1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Purpose: To summarize key issues in the eHealth field from an implementation science perspective and to highlight illustrative processes, examples and key directions to help more rapidly integrate research, policy and practice.

Methods: We present background on implementation science models and emerging principles; discuss implications for eHealth research; provide examples of practical designs, measures and exemplar studies that address key implementation science issues; and make recommendations for ways to more rapidly develop and test eHealth interventions as well as future research, policy and practice.

Results: The pace of eHealth research has generally not kept up with technological advances, and many of our designs, methods and funding mechanisms are incapable of providing the types of rapid and relevant information needed. Although there has been substantial eHealth research conducted with positive short-term results, several key implementation and dissemination issues such as representativeness, cost, unintended consequences, impact on health inequities, and sustainability have not been addressed or reported. Examples of studies in several of these areas are summarized to demonstrate this is possible.

Conclusions: eHealth research that is intended to translate into policy and practice should be more contextual, report more on setting factors, employ more responsive and pragmatic designs and report results more transparently on issues important to potential adopting patients, clinicians and organizational decision makers. We outline an alternative development and assessment model, summarize implementation science findings that can help focus attention, and call for different types of more rapid and relevant research and funding mechanisms.

Keywords: Implementation science; Internet; Methodology; Recommendations; Review; eHealth; mHealth.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Health Plan Implementation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Medical Informatics
  • Research Design*
  • Telemedicine*