Background: Despite high expectations and numerous initiatives in the area of eHealth, implementation and use of eHealth applications on a national level is no common practice yet. There is no full understanding of patients' attitude on eHealth yet. Aim of this study is to gain insight into the level of knowledge and experiences with eHealth of people with chronic lung diseases.
Method: A telephone survey among 400 people with a medical diagnosis of asthma or COPD was conducted. All patients participated in the larger research program National Panel of people with Chronic diseases or Disabilities (NPCD) conducted by NIVEL.
Results: Eight percent of the asthma and COPD patients knew of the term eHealth. Knowledge of specific eHealth applications (e.g. electronic medical record, electronic consultations, monitoring from a distance) was higher and ranged from 21 to 88%. Most available applications were used by less than 20% of the patients, although figures differ by age and educational level. People who have used applications were in general rather positive about their use. Non-users did not see clear advantages of using eHealth applications. A majority thought that eHealth decreases human contact in health care and will not contribute to a higher quality of care. On the contrary, almost half of the patients considered eHealth as a possibility to take more responsibility in their own care. Asthma and COPD patients were unanimous that the use of eHealth should always be a free choice.
Conclusion: Although most asthma and COPD patient know of one or more eHealth applications, actual use remains low. Patients who do have experience with the use of eHealth are on the whole positive. However, patients without experience have no clear ideas about the advantages. They should be convinced first, and stressing the possibilities for more personal control might be an important argument to persuade them.
Keywords: Asthma; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; eHealth.
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