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Unpacking Sociotechnical Discourses on Telehealth Use and Data Protection: A Path Towards Digital Health Value Creation.

BACKGROUND: Telehealth uptake will remain sub-optimal without consumer trust. Safeguarding the security and privacy of health information plays an important role in building trust and acceptance of telehealth.

OBJECTIVES: This study seeks to unpack the sociotechnical discourses on the use of telehealth with a focus on privacy and security in the context of United States health services.

METHODS: A search of the media outlets facilitated via the Factiva database was conducted. Using a qualitative method, thematic analysis was performed on the news texts to identify the key themes and provide contextual explanations.

RESULTS: The analysis led to the identification of three key themes: 'data protection practice', 'clinical resilience', and 'digital health business value' perspectives. These themes focus on various concepts of telehealth use including data privacy, security, public health emergency, compliance activities in the use of telehealth, meeting stakeholders' needs, reducing costs of service delivery, the potential of telehealth for informed action, and improving users' experience. Among these themes, 'data protection practice' was directly associated with privacy compliance and telehealth use. Other thematic discourses have provided an indirect reflection on the role of privacy compliance, with a greater emphasis placed on health service delivery and market dynamics rather than compliance in practice.

CONCLUSION: Our study revealed the importance of the COVID-19 pandemic in telehealth use, highlighting the move towards 'good faith' and responsible use of telehealth.

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