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Eur J Gen Pract. 2019 Oct;25(4):179-189. doi: 10.1080/13814788.2019.1658190. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

SERIES: eHealth in primary care. Part 1: Concepts, conditions and challenges.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Toxicology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Population Health, Section for Global Health, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Centre for Population Health Sciences, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.
Allergy and Respiratory Research Group, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Primary care is challenged to provide high quality, accessible and affordable care for an increasingly ageing, complex, and multimorbid population. To counter these challenges, primary care professionals need to take up new and innovative practices, including eHealth. eHealth applications hold the promise to overcome some difficulties encountered in the care of people with complex medical and social needs in primary care. However, many unanswered questions regarding (cost) effectiveness, integration with healthcare, and acceptability to patients, caregivers, and professionals remain to be elucidated. What conditions need to be met? What challenges need to be overcome? What downsides must be dealt with? This first paper in a series on eHealth in primary care introduces basic concepts and examines opportunities for the uptake of eHealth in primary care. We illustrate that although the potential of eHealth in primary care is high, several conditions need to be met to ensure that safe and high-quality eHealth is developed for and implemented in primary care. eHealth research needs to be optimized; ensuring evidence-based eHealth is available. Blended care, i.e. combining face-to-face care with remote options, personalized to the individual patient should be considered. Stakeholders need to be involved in the development and implementation of eHealth via co-creation processes, and design should be mindful of vulnerable groups and eHealth illiteracy. Furthermore, a global perspective on eHealth should be adopted, and eHealth ethics, patients' safety and privacy considered.


challenges; eHealth; primary care; vision

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