Exploring public perspectives on e-health: findings from two citizen juries

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Abstract

Background

Interest and investment in e-health continue to grow world-wide, but there remains relatively little engagement with the public on this subject, despite calls for more public involvement in health-care planning.

Design

This study used two modified citizen juries to explore barriers and facilitators to e-health implementation and the priorities for future e-health research from the perspective of health service users and lay representatives. Citizen juries bring together a group of people to deliberate over a specific issue. They are given information and invited to ‘cross-examine’ witnesses during the process.

Results

Jurors were very keen for lay views to be included in e-health development and embraced the citizen jury approach. They agreed unanimously that e-health should be developed and thought it was in many ways inevitable. Although there was much enthusiasm for a health-care system which offered e-health as an option, there was as much concern about what it might mean for patients if implemented inappropriately. E-health was preferred as an enhancement rather than substitute for, existing services. Lack of universal access was seen as a potential barrier to implementation but problems such as lack of computer literacy were seen as a temporary issue. Participants emphasized that e-health research needed to demonstrate both clinical and economic benefits.

Conclusion

There was broad support from the citizen juries for the development of e-health, although participants stressed that e-health should enhance, rather than substitute, face-to-face services. One-day citizen juries proved a practical method of public engagement on this subject.

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