My first introduction to eHealth and its potential to transform healthcare delivery happened nearly twenty years ago as part of a student project. I helped redesign a process that would allow several healthcare clinics in Florida to transfer radiology images to a California university hospital for a second opinion. The Florida clinics transferred the images electronically and transferred the reports via fax. Using a fax in this context sounds very outdated, but collaboration between healthcare providers across a distance was a new and exciting concept at the time. The project resulted in a smooth running process that closely resembled the one the university hospital used for in-house reads, exactly what the radiologists had asked for. This was typical of many early eHealth initiatives involving collaboration between healthcare providers or communication between healthcare providers and patients; existing workflows were simply “digitized”. In this article, I share my insights on why eHealth is important, the barriers we frequently encounter in our eHealth projects with customers and suggestions on how you can address them based on my experience over the past 17 years.
Like most projects of its kind at the time, this approach simply added new technology on top of existing ways of working. That is why many early attempts at introducing eHealth solutions failed to be cost effective1 and/or improve outcomes. Even worse, trying to incorporate the technology on top of their regular daily routines caused great frustration among physicians, nurses and administrators. In other words, these initiatives were a complete failure when measured against the goals of the Quadruple Aim.