Health care consumers' experiences of information communication technology—a summary of literature

Kerstin M Akesson, Britt-Inger Saveman, Gunilla Nilsson
International Journal of Medical Informatics 2007, 76 (9): 633-45

BACKGROUND: There is an increasing interest in reaching consumers directly through the Internet and different telecommunication systems. The most important contacts in health care will always be the face-to-face meetings, but the tools of health informatics can be seen as a means to an end, which is to provide the best possible health care. A variety of applications have been described in different references. To our knowledge there has been no review of a research-based state of the art in the field of consumers' experiences in using different applications in health informatics. According to the benefits in using information communication technology (ICT) as being cost-effective and timesaving it is of great importance to focus on and examine consumers' experiences. It is important that it is user friendly and regarded as valuable and useful.

AIM: The aim of this study was to describe consumers' subjective experiences of using electronic resources with reference to health and illness. DESIGN AND/OR METHOD: A systematic literature search was performed in databases CINAHL, Medline and Cochrane, as well as a manual search. Retrieved references (n=14) were appraised according to their scientific structure and quality. A broad search was performed in order to find as many different applications as possible. Our primary intention was to identify existing references describing consumers' experiences with ICT.

RESULTS: In spite of this broad search few references were found. Twelve references remained and three themes were identified: support and help, education and information, and telecommunication instead of on-site visiting. Consumers felt more confident and empowered, their knowledge increased and their health status improved due to the ICT resources. Lack of face-to-face meetings or privacy did not appear to be a problem.

CONCLUSION: ICT can improve the nurse-patient relationship and augment well-being for consumers. More research is needed to measure consumers' experiences and factors that influence it.


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