User Acceptance and eHealth – a Challenge

eHealth applications open up a new way of providing treatment for patients with mental disorders. However, despite a wide range of available apps and platforms, the digital revolution has not yet transformed the mental health care sector. But why is that?


Both the range of health platforms and apps as well as the number of people who use the various services is growing (Rossmann 2010). Furthermore, the fact that apps and websites can be used independently of time and place is a great advantage, and thus the opportunity is opening up to close an important gap in care through eHealth applications (Blachetta et al. 2016). eHealth services have certain advantages, especially for people with mental disorders . More specifically, geographical barriers are bypassed, and areas with only few psychotherapists and psychiatrists can apply treatment services. Moreover, eHealth applications can be used at any time of the day, which means that flexibility in terms of treatment times is improved. Since mental disorders are still associated with high stigma, anonymous online services also offer a good opportunity for a first step towards treatment (Falkai 2016). Now it is time to seize these opportunities!


With a considerable number of mental health apps available for immediate download from the

Google Play Store and the Apple iTunes Store, and countless websites, there is already an enormous range of eHealth applications. The wide range of offers indicates that the interest

and demand of the users for such applications exists, in principle, and that there is also access to them. In this case access means the knowledge about where to find eHealth applications, and how to download them. However, despite interest and availability, the digital revolution in mental health care has so far failed to happen, as Torous and colleagues state (Torous et al.2018).


After several studies on the effectiveness of apps and websites in the field of mental health have already created excitement, the challenge now is to successfully implement and establish these services in a real setting (Torous et al. 2018). A study on the development of the eHealth strategy, which was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Health, shows that "new digital applications usually only realize their potential when they are widely distributed" and that for this reason "technology adaptation and acceptance by the end user are often fundamental to the success of the introduction of such applications" (Blachetta et al. 2016). It is therefore crucial to investigate the acceptance and attitude of potential users in order to be able to adapt the services to their needs (Scholz et al. 2017).

Sophie Eicher

Young Leaders for Health



References


Blachetta, F., Bauer, M., Poerschke, K., Bieber, N., Solbach, T., Leppert, F., et al.

(2016). Weiterentwicklung der eHealth-Strategie: Studie im Auftrag des

Bundesministeriums für Gesundheit. Berlin: BMG. Retrieved from

https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/fileadmin/Dateien/3_Downloads/

E/eHealth/BMG-Weiterentwicklung_der_eHealth-Strategie-

Abschlussfassung.pdf

Falkai, P. (2016). E-Mental-Health: Chancen und Risiken. Fortschritte der

Neurologischen Psychiatrie, 84(11), 668-668. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-117294

Rossmann, C. (2010). Gesundheitskommunikation im Internet. Erscheinungsformen,

Potenziale, Grenzen. W. Schweiger & K. Beck (Ed.), Handbuch Online-

Kommunikation (S. 338-363). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

doi: 10.1007/978-3-531-92437-3_14

Scholz, S., Roth, N. (2017). Determinanten der E-Health-Akzeptanz bei Verbrauchern.

S. Müller-Mielitz & T. Lux (Ed.), E-Health-Ökonomie (S. 333-357).

Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler. doi: 10.1007/978-3-658-10788-8_18

Torous, J., Nicholas, J., Larsen, M. E., Firth, J. & Christensen, H. (2018). Clinical review

of user engagement with mental health smartphone apps: evidence, theory and

improvements. Evidence Based Mental Health, 21(3), 116-119. doi: 10.1136/eb-

2018-102891

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