ICT and the future of health care: aspects of health promotion

Int J Med Inform. 2015 Jan;84(1):48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


Purpose: Increasingly, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications enter the daily lives of consumers. Availability of various multimedia interfaces offers the opportunity to develop and adjust ICT solutions to all aspects of society including health care. To address the challenges of the ongoing adaptive progress of ICT, decision makers profit from estimates of expectable merits and risks of future technological developments. The aim of the present study was to assess the prevailing opinions and expectations among Austrian stakeholders regarding ICT-assisted health promotion.

Methods: In total, 73 experts (74% males) engaged in the Austrian health care sector participated in a biphasic online Delphi survey. Panellists were assigned to three groups representing medical professionals, patient advocates, and administrative personnel. In a scenario-based questionnaire, experts evaluated potential advantages and barriers as well as degree of innovation, desirability, and estimated date of implementation of six future ICT scenarios. Scenario-specific and consolidated overall opinions were ranked. Inter-group differences were assessed using ANOVA.

Results: Panellists expected the future ICT-supported health promotion strategies to especially improve the factors living standard (56%), quality of health care (53%), and patient's knowledge (44%). Nevertheless, monetary aspects (57%), acceptance by patient advocates (45%), and data security and privacy (27%) were considered as the three most substantial hampering factors for ICT applications. Although overall mean desirability of the scenarios was quite high (80%) amongst panellists, it was considerably lower in medical professionals compared to patient advocates and administrative personnel (p=0.006). This observation suggests a more precautious attitude of this specific interest group regarding technological innovations.

Conclusions: The present Delphi survey identified issues relevant for successful implementation of ICT-based health care solutions, providing a compilation of several areas that might require further research. In the light of ageing societies facing the perceived threat of permanent online surveillance, different requirements and expectations of end users should be accounted for by various stakeholders. Thus, close collaboration could facilitate the harmonization process on hot health topics among interest groups.

Keywords: Delphi survey; Health policy; Health promotion; ICT; Public Health; Stakeholders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delphi Technique
  • Female
  • Health Care Sector
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics Applications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires