Experiences of Using an Electronic Health Tool Among Health Care Professionals Involved in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Management: Qualitative Analysis

JMIR Hum Factors. 2023 Mar 30;10:e43269. doi: 10.2196/43269.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common and deadliest chronic diseases of the 21st century. eHealth tools are seen as a promising way of supporting health care professionals in providing evidence-based COPD care, for example, by reinforcing information and interventions provided to the patients and providing easier access and support to the health care professional themselves. Still, knowledge is scarce on the experience of using eHealth tools from the perspective of the health care professional involved in COPD management.

Objective: The study explored the experiences of using an eHealth tool among health care professionals that worked with patients with COPD in their daily clinical practice.

Methods: This exploratory qualitative study is part of a process evaluation in a parallel group, controlled, pragmatic pilot trial. Semistructured interviews were performed with 10 health care professionals 3 and 12 months after getting access to an eHealth tool, the COPD Web. The COPD Web, developed using cocreation, is an interactive web-based platform that aims to help health care professionals provide health-promoting strategies. Data from the interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach.

Results: The main results reflected health care professionals' experiences in 3 categories: receiving competence support and adjusting practice, improving quality of care, and efforts required for implementation. These categories highlighted that using an eHealth tool such as the COPD Web was experienced to provide knowledge support for health care professionals that led to adaptation and facilitation of working procedures and person-centered care. Taken together, these changes were perceived to improve the quality of care through enhanced patient contact and encouragement of interprofessional collaboration. In addition, health care professionals expressed that patients using the COPD Web were better equipped to tackle their disease and adhered better to provided treatment, increasing their self-management ability. However, structural and external barriers bar the successful implementation of an eHealth tool in daily praxis.

Conclusions: This study is among the first to explore experiences of using an eHealth tool among health care professionals involved in COPD management. Our novel findings highlight that using an eHealth tool such as the COPD Web may improve the quality of care for patients with COPD (eg, by providing knowledge support for health care professionals and adapting and facilitating working procedures). Our results also indicate that an eHealth tool fosters collaborative interactions between patients and health care professionals, which explains why eHealth is a valuable means of encouraging well-informed and autonomous patients. However, structural and external barriers requiring time, support, and education must be addressed to ensure that an eHealth tool can be successfully implemented in daily praxis.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02696187; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02696187.

Keywords: COPD; care; chronic; clinical; eHealth; electronic; health care professionals; implementation; internet; management; primary care; pulmonary; support; tools; web based.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02696187