A critical appraisal of five widely used eHealth applications for primary care – opportunities and challenges

To cite this article:

Marise J. Kasteleyn, Anke Versluis, Petra van Peet, Ulrik Bak Kirk, Jens van Dalfsen, Eline Meijer, Persijn Honkoop, Kendall Ho, Niels H. Chavannes & Esther P. W. A. Talboom-Kamp (2021) SERIES: eHealth in primary care. Part 5: A critical appraisal of five widely used eHealth applications for primary care – opportunities and challenges, European Journal of General Practice, 27:1, 248-256, DOI: 10.1080/13814788.2021.1962845

Background

Given the pressure on modern healthcare systems, eHealth can offer valuable opportunities. However, understanding the potential and challenges of eHealth in daily practice can be challenging for many general practitioners (GPs) and their staff.
 
Objectives
To critically appraise five widely used eHealth applications, in relation to safe, evidence-based and high-quality eHealth. Using these applications as examples, we aim to increase understanding of eHealth among GPs and highlight the opportunities and challenges presented by eHealth.
 
Discussion
eHealth applications can support patients while increasing efficiency for GPs.
 
A three-way division (inform, monitor, track; interaction; data utilisation) characterises many eHealth applications, with an increasing degree of complexity depending on the domain. All applications provide information and some have extra functionalities that promote interaction, while data analysis and artificial intelligence may be applied to support or (fully) automate care processes.
 
Applications in the inform domain are relatively easy to use and implement but their impact on clinical outcomes may be limited. More demanding applications, in terms of privacy and ethical aspects, are found in the data utilisation domain and may potentially have a more significant impact on care processes and patient outcomes.
 
When selecting and implementing eHealth applications, we recommend that GPs remain critical regarding preconditions on safe, evidence-based and high-quality eHealth, particularly in the case of more complex applications in the data utilisation domain.