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Evaluating eHealth: How to make evaluation more methodologically robust

PLOS

eHealth--the organisation and delivery of health services and information using information technology (IT) systems--is playing an increasingly important role in shaping health care systems. This week PLoS Medicine publishes the third in a series of articles evaluating eHealth. Richard Lilford and colleagues consider the evaluation of health IT systems as they are employed following pre-implementation testing.

The authors point out the necessity for evaluation of eHealth computer systems and the difficulties such evaluation will encounter. "There is a consensus about the evaluation of clinical treatments, such as drugs, in which randomized control trials are state of the art," they say. "No such consensus exists yet for the evaluation of highly complex service interventions such as computer systems." The authors conclude that "multiple methods research" is necessary for eHealth systems evaluation: "Research commissioners and research teams need to recognize the importance of undertaking combined quantitative and qualitative work when evaluating IT systems."

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This article is the third publication in PLoS Medicine's three part series on eHealth, the other two papers can be found using the links below:

Evaluating eHealth Interventions: The Need for Continuous Systemic Evaluation: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000126

Evaluating eHealth: Undertaking Robust International Cross-Cultural eHealth Research: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000105

Funding: No specific funding was received for this work.

Competing Interests: RL and JF are responsible for commissioning the NPFIT Evaluation Programme, and MP is Chairman at the Steering Committee for this programme. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the NHS or the Department of Health.

Citation: Lilford RJ, Foster J, Pringle M (2009) Evaluating eHealth: How to Make Evaluation More Methodologically Robust. PLoS Med 6(11): e1000186. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000186

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000186

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-06-11-lilford.pdf

CONTACT:
Richard Lilford
University of Birmingham
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TT
United Kingdom
0121 414 8695
r.j.lilford@bham.ac.uk

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