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Exploring E-patients' Heterogeneity: Towards Personalized E-Health Applications

Conference paper
Authors Ulrika Josefsson
Published in Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 14), 12-14 June 2006, Göteborg, Sweden
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Internet, E-health, E-patients, information use environment, personalization, user context
Subject categories Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy, Technology and social change


Some of the major future healthcare challenges are related to demography, finances and the technological development. In search for solutions the field of ‘E-health’ is often discussed. Lately, in these discussions there has been a focus on the importance of creating patient-centred applications. Associated with the democratization of the healthcare service and the development of “the informed patient” an important part involves the accomplishment of increased personalized medical information online. By exploring E-patients’ heterogeneity, this paper aims to support the development of patient-centred E-health applications. Using a qualitative approach, the paper reports from 25 in-depth interviews performed with Swedish patients and representatives of patient associations. By means of theoretical ideas from information science, four important components of E-patients’ information use environment (People, Problem, Setting, and Problem resolution) serve as instruments to illustrate and exemplify E-patients’ heterogeneity. The results draw a complex and dynamic picture of the E-patient context introducing a dimension of personalization reaching further than patients’ general online activities and individual medical data. This dimension of personalization is discussed in relation to tentative implications for the development of patient-centred E-health applications.

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