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Patient and provider perspectives on ehealth interventions in Canada and Australia: A scoping review

journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-28, 23:33 authored by Michele LeBlanc, Samuel Petrie, Saambavi Paskaran, Dean Carson, Paul A Peters
Introduction: Despite the promises of universal health care in most developed countries, health inequities remain prevalent within and between rural and remote communities. Remote health technologies are often promoted as solutions to increase health system efficiency, to enhance quality of care, and to decrease gaps in access to care for rural and remote communities. However, there is mixed evidence for these interventions, particularly related to how they are received and perceived by health providers and by patients. Health technologies do not always adequately meet the needs of patients or providers. To examine this, a broad-based scoping review was conducted to provide an overview of patient and provider perspectives of eHealth initiatives in rural communities. The unique objective of this review was to prioritize the voices of patients and providers in discussing the disparities between health interventions and needs of people in rural communities. eHealth initiatives were reviewed for rural communities of Australia and Canada, two countries that have similar geographies and comparable health systems at the local level. Methods: Searches were performed in PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science with results limited from 2000 to 2018. Keywords included combinations of 'eHealth', 'telehealth', 'telemedicine', 'electronic health', and 'rural/remote'. Individual patient and provider perspectives on health care were identified, followed by qualitative thematic coding based on the type of intervention, the feedback provided, the affected population, geographic location, and category of individual providing their perspective. Quotes from patients and providers are used to illustrate the identified benefits and disadvantages of eHealth technologies. Results: Based on reviewed literature, 90.1% of articles reported that eHealth interventions were largely positive. Articles noted decreased travel time (18%), time/cost saving (15.1%), and increased access to services (13.9%) as primary benefits to eHealth. The most prevalent disadvantages of eHealth were technological issues (24.5%), lack of face-to-face contact (18.6%), limited training (10.8%), and resource disparities (10.8%). These results show where existing eHealth interventions could improve and can inform policymakers and providers in designing new interventions. Importantly, benefits to eHealth extend beyond geographic access. Patients reported ancillary benefits to eHealth that include reduced anxiety, disruption on family life, and improved recovery time. Providers reported closer connections to colleagues, improved support for complex care, and greater eLearning opportunity. Barriers to eHealth are recognized by patient and providers alike to be largely systemic, where lack of rural high-speed internet and unreliability of installed technologies were significant. Conclusion: Regional and national governments are seen as the key players in addressing these technical barriers. This scoping review diverges from many reviews of eHealth with the use of firstperson perspectives. It is hoped that this focus will highlight the importance of patient voices in evaluating important healthcare interventions such as eHealth and associated technologies.






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James Cook University

Additional Rights

CC BY 4.0



Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

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External Author Affiliations

Carleton University, Canada

Era Eligible

  • Yes




Rural and Remote Health