The future in eHealth

Gudbjörg Erlingsdottir is an associate professor in work environment technology at the Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, and coordinator of the eHealth@LU network. She conducts research on how different eHealth services and systems affect the work and work environment of healthcare professionals.

 What is being done in the area of eHealth at Lund University?

“We are doing a lot in the the area of eHealth. There are about 20 researchers from five different faculties in the eHealth@LU network. This makes us rather unique because we have such a wide range of expertise within the same university. For example, the network includes researchers who are developing systems and those who critically examine what happens when a system is developed and implemented. But we also have several other people with competencies in law, medicine, ethics, communication, media and psychology, to name a few.”

What are some of your research results in the area that you think are important?

“At Design Sciences, we primarily look at eHealth from a work environment perspective. This deals with healthcare workers and how the introduction of citizens to eHealth services affects their work environment. But it also deals with how different eHealth solutions can support the healthcare staff. The transparency that is a part of a patient’s electronic access to his or her medical records, for example, has an impact on healthcare work. Opinions differ, though, among professionals about whether it is positive or not that patients have access to unsigned medical record entries and certain sensitive information. This, in turn, can affect how the entries are written and how information is conveyed between work colleagues.”

Is it becoming increasingly common that people are contacting doctors for care through various digital services. What does the research say about these types of services?

“There isn’t much research yet about healthcare services that are provided by means of digital technology. But it is an area of great curiosity for us and one in which we will certainly continue to carry out research.”

What challenges do we face in eHealth?

“Laws, regulations and technology are often out of step with one another. Sometimes, certain things you can do technically are not allowed by the current legislation. And in other cases, there are laws stating that patients have the right to see all the information about themselves even though technological developments are unable to make this possible. The imbalance between laws and technology is a major challenge that the healthcare sector needs to address.”

Text: Jessika Sellergren

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