Philips Future Health Index 2018 released

Last July, I was approached by someone from the Philips team in London that works on the Future Health Index program. Previously they launched the first part of the 2018 Future Health Index, which is the indicator of the value delivered by 16 national health systems from around the world. For the second part, they wanted to produce some tangible guidelines on how things can improve and drive change within the industry.

In order to develop these guidelines, they interviewed 12 key opinion leaders (KOLs) across the Netherlands, US, UK, Australia, Germany, China, Sweden and Estonia – and I was one of them.

The Interview Questions

The interviewer was so kind to send me the transcript of my interview, otherwise I probably would not have remember them. I really enjoyed talking to him, which is not surprising given that people’s experiences with and attitude toward eHealth services is my PhD topic.

We started with my PhD research and I gave a background on the Swedish patient portal through which Swedish citizens can access their electronic health records online. We talked about the initial reaction from healthcare professionals and the conflict between the project and the local medical association (you can read about it in this article), how patients receive it, and what I think about this situation compared to, for example, Germany. Research within the DOME consortium indicates that the initial concerns of physicians might not have become reality and that many patients value direct access to their records, increased their understanding of their medical issues as well as their sense of control. In relation to that, I was asked whether the lesson would be to impose the intended change even if it is against heavy criticism of particular stakeholders. This really is a tricky question, especially in a context like healthcare in which a power-imbalance between clinician and patient still exists. I think, if real change is supposed to happen, sometimes consensus is impossible if the people who are supposed to change are against it. But at the end of the day, all stakeholders (like patients, family, physicians, therapists, nurses, management, insurance etc.) are (or should be) “in the same boat” so to speak and work together.

One of my favorite quotes on this is from Greenhalgh et al. (2012) who called for more effective inter-stakeholder dialogue in relation to telehealth and telecare:

The different interest groups described in this paper are likely to continue to exist in an uncomfortable truce with one another, competing for dominance as they gain more or less public appeal, professional credibility, political power, resource and so on.

and with reference to Checkland & Holwell (1998) they add:

While consensus is not a realistic or even desirable goal, surfacing such things as assumptions and values, and inviting debate on their significance through intersectoral and interdisciplinary dialogue will help achieve what systems thinkers have called ‘accom- modation’ (acknowledgement of, and adaptation towards, other perspectives and practices).

Future Health Index: Key Recommendations

I recommend to read the full report, which you can download here: Part 1, Part 2. According to the Future Health Index research, ‘universal’ electronic health records plays an important role in the future, for example regarding integration of and more effective use of data. They identified five key concrete recommendations to overcome challenges and drive integrated care:

  1. Get regulation right.Clearly defined polices and robust data privacy and security standards at the national level build confidence in all parts of the healthcare continuum and help healthcare institutions develop their own data codes of practice, as well as encouraging healthcare professionals and the general population to collect, share and analyze data with greater confidence.
  2. Modernize education.Healthcare professionals won’t demand EHRs and AI tools at work if they don’t learn to rely on them during medical training. Increasing healthcare professionals’ adoption of these tools must start with their integration into medical school curriculums.
  3. End top-down implementation.Healthcare professionals are unlikely to adopt new tools when they’re presented as a ‘fait accompli’ by technologists. Creating EHRs and AI solutions in collaboration with both healthcare professionals and the general population will have a significant impact on successful integration.
  4. Prove and explain value.Both healthcare professionals and patients need to be able to easily understand how data collection and analytics tools make a difference. Constantly measuring and communicating outcomes will create a body of evidence that will help bridge the understanding gap.
  5. Harmonize data standards.Companies, healthcare professionals and governments in each market must work together to reach a greater degree of consensus on data formats and protocols.

Parts of this post originally appeared in a slightly different form on the my personal blog.

New Article in Press: Patients’ Experiences of Accessing Their Medical Records

In 2012, Region Uppsala gave its 300,000 citizens access to their medical records through a patient portal. Today, the service called Journalen has become the Swedish national service. The DOME consortium is conducting research on the effects of this service on healthcare and has conducted several research studies before, for example, an interview study with cancer patients, with physicians from different specialities, a survey with patients who have read their paper-based records, surveys with nurses and physicians. Given that the service has been launched already a few years ago, we wanted to investigate patients’ experience with the service and their motivation to access their record

Method: National Patient Survey

The questionnaire for the national patient survey was designed by several researchers in the DOME consortium and was informed by previous studies conducted. The process started in spring 2016 and was coordinated by Hanife Rexhepi from Skövde University. The final questionnaire addressed six areas:

  • General questions related to the PAEHR system
  • Questions targeting experiences from using the content of PAEHR
  • Information security
  • General questions about information needs, behaviour, and information-seeking styles
  • Personal health related questions
  • Demographics

Data was collected through the patient portal from June to October 2016.

Analysis: Overview of National Patient Survey

The questionnaire addressed several important aspects related to patients reading their electronic health records. To give an overview, we focused in this article on the following questions:

  • Why do patients in Sweden use Journalen? And how often do they use it?
  • What types of information are most valued by patients?
  • What are the general attitudes by patients towards Journalen?
  • What differences can be identified with regards to attitudes between different county councils in Sweden?

The analysis and writing process was led by Jonas Moll.

Summary Results

The survey was initiated by 2,587 patients on the national level. The majority of respondents responded to use Journalen about once a month and the most selected reasons for using it were:  1) to receive an overview of one’s own medical history and treatment, 2) to follow up on doctor’s visits, and 3) to become more involved in one’s own care.

The top three reasons why patients believe that Journalen is important are that it 1) makes them feel more informed, 2) improves their communication with care, and 3) results in a better understanding of one’s own health status. The most important resource, according to the survey, is test results. In general, the respondents had a very positive attitudes towards Journalen as a reform and considered access to their medical records as good for them. The attitudes did not differ greatly between respondents from different county councils.

The paper has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is currently in press, and can be read as pre-print here.


Feature Image by rawpixel on Unsplash

Presentation by Åsa Cajander and Jonas Moll at Medical Informatics Europe

During the first day of the Medical Informatics Europe (MIE) Conference Åsa Cajander and I presented the paper that was introduced in this blog post. Actually, this was the first presentation held by representatives from the HTO group during this year’s combined MIE/Vitalis event, but certainly not the last – we were active on stage, or as workshop leaders, during each and every day!

This particular presentation was based on a study that was conducted within the scope of a master’s thesis project at Uppsala University by Sara Englund and Anastasia Hansman. The project focused on the Swedish patient accessible electronic health record system Journalen (and hence was tightly connected to the DOME consortium) and more specifically on how nurses see that Journalen has affected their work environment and their communication with patients.

The result of the semi-structured interviews conducted with the nurses at a primary care center in Region Uppsala, first of all showed similar as our earlier interviews with physicians – Journalen has changed the interaction with patients, created an increased workload and created uncertainty regarding when to inform patients of results now that the patients can read even unsigned notes. Even though most of the results were in line with results from our earlier research in DOME, one new theme arose from the interview analysis – the need for new knowledge. Several nurses indicated that education was needed, focusing on how Journalen should be used both by patients and in the clinician-patient relationship. This is an important result, which should be taken very seriously.

All conference papers are published open access, so you can find all research presented at MIE here. You can find the paper that Åsa and I presented here.

Stay tuned for more posts about the HTO activities at MIE/Vitalis 2018! 🙂

Physicians, Patients and the Patient-Accessible EHR

Christiane presenting her draft of her doctoral thesis on April 17, 2018

Christiane Grünloh, one of the members of our research group, will soon be defending her PhD thesis. Last week, it was time for her to present a draft of her work, which she plans to defend by the end of the year. I jump on the opportunity to write of few lines on her research, which revolves around the Patient-Accessible Electronic Health Record online.

Christiane is one of the researchers of the DOME Consortium, working on the Development of Online Medical records and E-health services. She has been focusing on investigating the perspective of, respectively, physicians and patients on the EHR online – “Journalen” in Swedish. Research about this topic is particularly important since the implementation of Journalen in Sweden has been a very controversial project. Indeed, while patient organizations predominantly were in its favour, caring professionals were, for the most part, against it.

In her research, Christiane was able to look more closely at the reasons behind physicians’ strong opposition to the idea of enabling patients to access their EHR online. She was also able to investigate what was the value of this service from the patients’ point of view. In doing so, she found that physicians and patients had very different perspectives on the topic, and reflected on ways to bridge the gap between those two groups in order to improve the quality of the patient-physician relationship.

You can find Christiane on Twitter (where she is a very active user!) and LinkedIn. If you were attending the Vitalis / MIE 2018 conference in Gothenburg, you maybe also were able to attend her workshop on “Identifying the Need of Self-reported Data and Self-measurements for Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer”, which she is held together with Jonas Moll, Isabella Scandurra and Åsa Cajander last Thursday.