Perspectives of Policy Makers and Service Users Concerning the Implementation of eHealth in Sweden: Interview Study

J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jan 28;24(1):e28870. doi: 10.2196/28870.

Abstract

Background: Increasing life spans of populations and a growing demand for more advanced care make effective and cost-efficient provision of health care necessary. eHealth technology is often proposed, although research on barriers to and facilitators of the implementation of eHealth technology is still scarce and fragmented.

Objective: The aim of this study is to explore the perceptions concerning barriers to and facilitators of the implementation of eHealth among policy makers and service users and explore the ways in which their perceptions converge and differ.

Methods: This study used interview data from policy makers at different levels of health care (n=7) and service users enrolled in eHealth interventions (n=25). The analysis included separate qualitative content analyses for the 2 groups and then a second qualitative content analysis to explore differences and commonalities.

Results: Implementation barriers perceived by policy makers were that not all service users benefit from eHealth and that there is uncertainty about the impact of eHealth on the work of health care professionals. Policy makers also perceived political decision-making as complex; this included problems related to provision of technical infrastructure and lack of extra resources for health care digitalization. Facilitators were policy makers' conviction that eHealth is what citizens want, their belief in eHealth solutions as beneficial for health care practice, and their belief in the importance of health care digitalization. Barriers for service users comprised capability limitations and varied preferences of service users and a mismatch of technology with user needs, lack of data protection, and their perception of eHealth as being more time consuming. Facilitators for service users were eHealth technology design and match with their skill set, personal feedback and staff support, a sense of privacy, a credible sender, and flexible use of time.There were several commonalities between the 2 stakeholder groups. Facilitators for both groups were the strong impetus toward technology adoption in society and expectations of time flexibility. Both groups perceived barriers in the difficulties of tailoring eHealth, and both groups expressed uncertainty about the care burden distribution. There were also differences: policy makers perceived that their decision-making was very complex and that resources for implementation were limited. Service users highlighted their need to feel that their digital data were protected and that they needed to trust the eHealth sender.

Conclusions: Perceptions about barriers to and facilitators of eHealth implementation varied among stakeholders in different parts of the health care system. The study points to the need to reach an enhanced mutual understanding of priorities and overcome challenges at both the micro and macro levels of the health care system. More well-balanced decisions at the policy-maker level may lead to more effective and sustainable development and future implementation of eHealth.

Keywords: clients; computer-assisted therapy; consultation telehealth; decision-makers; implementation; mobile phone; patients; politicians; qualitative methods; remote.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sweden
  • Telemedicine*