Monika Jurkeviciute is a Ph.D. candidate at Chalmers Department of Technology Management and Economics, and also connected to Chalmers research center Centre for Healthcare Improvement. She now presents her licentiate thesis: Planning a holistic eHealth evaluation: The interplay between standards and reality
Tell us about your research!
My research focuses on standardization in the evaluation of eHealth implementations. Standardization is considered among possible ways to increase quality in eHealth evaluation studies. Therefore, various standards (such as evaluation frameworks, guidelines, and scales) have been created to increase credibility and methodological uniformity among different eHealth studies. However, for more than a decade it has been a stated problem that standards are used insufficiently in the eHealth evaluation, and practitioners need more and better standards. Therefore, the purpose of my research was to study the use of standards in eHealth evaluation practice.
Why is this important?
The use of standards is traditionally associated with the quality of evaluation studies, which is important for developing knowledge and generating evidence for decision-making on eHealth implementations. Therefore, it is important to understand why the standards are not used in the evaluation of eHealth implementations.
What are your most important research findings?
My research has empirically confirmed that standards are used insufficiently in eHealth evaluation studies. Also, while standards such as evaluation frameworks and guidelines for eHealth evaluation planning have been found beneficial, they need to be improved for better alignment with practice. Another study of mine has demonstrated that sometimes, even if practitioners aim to use a standard, the use is not straightforward and is hindered by several factors.
The identified factors hindering the use of standards are related to insufficient evaluator’s experience and resources for using a standard, evaluator’s unawareness of a standard, inadequacy of a standard to address a target population or a disease, non-existence of a validated version of a standard in a particular location, and a lack of fit between a standard and a scope of the evaluation.
What new knowledge do you bring forward in your research?
The use of standards is not black and white, as previously has been portrayed in the field of eHealth evaluation. The use of standards and adherence to them need to be seen as a range. That is, due to the different aspects of “reality”, evaluators might use a standard just partially too, by adding or removing some elements or significantly transforming its content. Sometimes, this can lead to a better quality of evaluation. For example, practitioners can “get inspired” by a particular standard and create of a non-standard tailor-made method that suits the studied patients better. For some standards, this “partiality” is acceptable, while for others it is not. However, in reality, it happens.
What do you hope for your research to lead to?
My research should help scholars and practitioners improve standards related to eHealth evaluation, and to consider taking actions to prevent the factors hindering the use of standards in eHealth evaluation studies.
What will be the next step in your research?
Next, we shall create and validate a model trying to explain under which conditions the eHealth solution that we had been testing previously provide the best outcomes to elderly people with mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia.
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