Access to health care is a human right: a focus group study in COPD patients regarding eHealth accessibility

15 May 2023
Background: digital health becomes increasingly important and can improve health outcomes. Electronic health applications are also called eHealth. E-health is important because it can help to address healthcare challenges such as shortness of staff, high workload increasing number of chronic patients. Unfortunately, 4 million Dutch citizens are not digital literate and therefore have difficulties in using eHealth. Aim: it is unknown, why people are not digital literate. We explored barriers and facilitators of COPD patients regarding e-health, so that this information can be used by future developers and policymakers to let a larger group of patients profit from the benefits of e-health. Methodology: in 2 focus groups, we spoke with COPD patients (n=13) about their experiences with technology, possible, barriers, preferred health, applications, and facilitating factors. Results: some patients used an eHealth self management application, or accessed their electronic patient record. the focus groups showed that there are different barriers that patient can face such as fear of losing face-to-face contact, lack of basic technology, knowledge, (e.g. not knowing that a WebCam is needed to have an online consultation), medical information is too complex, difficulties remembering instructions about how to use technology. All patients who use some type of technology needed help from a spouse, family or friends. Conclusion: although all patients in the focus groups has access to Internet at home, most of them faced severe difficulties in using technology. The barriers of patience discovered in the study can be used by policymakers to improve access to digital care. In this way, healthcare remains accessible for all patients, including those with poor digital skills. At the conference I will present several anecdotes and stories from patients that emerged during the focus groups and will be of interest of healthcare professionals.

Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Education
  • Technology
Type of resource
Munich 2023
Esther Metting1 1University Of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands