Towards Patient-Centered Care: The Role of E-Health in Enabling Patient Access to Health Information

Towards Patient-Centered Care: The Role of E-Health in Enabling Patient Access to Health Information

Juanita Dawson (Claremont Graduate University, USA), Bengisu Tulu (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA) and Thomas A. Horan (Claremont Graduate University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-016-5.ch001
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This chapter provides a conceptual foundation by exploring the existing literature on traditional healthcare, patient-centered healthcare, and the progression of e-health in enabling the movement towards patient-centered care. This chapter also discusses enhancing the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider through e-health. We conclude with a discussion of the future of patient-centered e-health and future research opportunities in this area.
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Access to information is important for enabling effective collaboration between patients and their healthcare providers. Use of information systems (IS) in patient-centered care renders an opportunity to provide individuals access to their own health information (Bailey, 1998) as well as other resources. Today, technological advances have changed how patients and healthcare providers regard health information.

  • The concept of individual access anytime, anyplace, and anywhere is taking shape with the help of online applications that promise greater participation of patients in their own healthcare decisions (Wickramasinghe & Goldberg, 2005).

  • Patients’ access to information can be of benefit or detriment to health outcomes (Carrigan, 1993), and it is important to optimize information delivery and guidance to promote benefits.

  • Individuals from all social and economic backgrounds need to better manage their health, so it is important that an information divide is not created as an unintended consequence of e-health (Currie & Guah, 2006; Luce, Phillips, Benjamin, & Wasson, 2006; Wasson, 2006).

It is important to make the distinction between patient-centered e-health (PCEH) and traditional health IS before we continue our discussion. Traditional health IS were designed to meet the needs of healthcare providers and were used by health workers to assist them in patient care. Many healthcare providers are now developing e-health for use by patients to support searches for health information as well as other interactions with the provider. Key distinctions between traditional health IS and these new forms of PCEH are presented in Table 1. The authors’ vision is that patients’ ability to access to information through PCEH can be used to economically empower them to better manage their health.

Table 1.
Traditional health IS and PCEH
Traditional Health ISPCEH
EmphasisRecord-keepingAccess to patient information
UsersProvider personnelPatient and provider
InteractionProvider → PatientProvider ← → Patient
SupportsProvider activitiesPatient health management
Services availableAt hospital locationAnywhere, anytime
System accessibilityAccessed locallyAccessed globally
Patient accessPatient has only indirect access to patient informationPatient has direct access to patient information

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