Identifying the Value of an eHealth Intervention Aimed at Cognitive Impairments: Observational Study in Different Contexts and Service Models
Journal article, 2020

BACKGROUND: Value is one of the central concepts in health care, but it is vague within the field of summative eHealth evaluations. Moreover, the role of context in explaining the value is underexplored, and there is no explicit framework guiding the evaluation of the value of eHealth interventions. Hence, different studies conceptualize and operationalize value in different ways, ranging from measuring outcomes such as clinical efficacy or behavior change of patients or professionals to measuring the perceptions of various stakeholders or in economic terms. OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study is to identify contextual factors that determine similarities and differences in the value of an eHealth intervention between two contexts. We also aim to reflect on and contribute to the discussion about the specification, assessment, and relativity of the "value" concept in the evaluation of eHealth interventions. METHODS: The study concerned a 6-month eHealth intervention targeted at elderly patients (n=107) diagnosed with cognitive impairment in Italy and Sweden. The intervention introduced a case manager role and an eHealth platform to provide remote monitoring and coaching services to the patients. A model for evaluating the value of eHealth interventions was designed as monetary and nonmonetary benefits and sacrifices, based on the value conceptualizations in eHealth and marketing literature. The data was collected using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the clock drawing test, and the 5-level EQ-5D (EQ-5D-5L). Semistructured interviews were conducted with patients and health care professionals. Monetary data was collected from the health care and technology providers. RESULTS: The value of an eHealth intervention applied to similar types of populations but differed in different contexts. In Sweden, patients improved cognitive performance (MMSE mean 0.85, SD 1.62, P<.001), reduced anxiety (EQ-5D-5L mean 0.16, SD 0.54, P=.046), perceived their health better (EQ-5D-5L VAS scale mean 2.6, SD 9.7, P=.035), and both patients and health care professionals were satisfied with the care. However, the Swedish service model demonstrated an increased cost, higher workload for health care professionals, and the intervention was not cost-efficient. In Italy, the patients were satisfied with the care received, and the health care professionals felt empowered and had an acceptable workload. Moreover, the intervention was cost-effective. However, clinical efficacy and quality of life improvements have not been observed. We identified 6 factors that influence the value of eHealth intervention in a particular context: (1) service delivery design of the intervention (process of delivery), (2) organizational setup of the intervention (ie, organizational structure and professionals involved), (3) cost of different treatments, (4) hourly rates of staff for delivering the intervention, (5) lifestyle habits of the population (eg, how physically active they were in their daily life and if they were living alone or with family), and (6) local preferences on the quality of patient care. CONCLUSIONS: Value in the assessments of eHealth interventions need to be considered beyond economic terms, perceptions, or behavior changes. To obtain a holistic view of the value created, it needs to be operationalized into monetary and nonmonetary outcomes, categorizing these into benefits and sacrifices.

cost benefit

cognitive impairment

eHealth intervention

role of context

eHealth value

evaluation of value


Monika Nair

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Lex Van Velsen

Roessingh Research and Development

Henrik Eriksson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Svante Lifvergren

Skaraborg Hospital

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Pietro Davide Trimarchi

Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi Onlus

Ulla Andin

Skaraborg Hospital

Johan Svensson

University of Gothenburg

Skaraborg Hospital

Journal of Medical Internet Research

1438-8871 (ISSN)

Vol. 22 10 e17720- e17720

Subject Categories

Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy

Other Health Sciences




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4/5/2022 6