4 ways research can keep up with eHealth

Research often struggles to keep up with eHealth and isn't timely or useful by the time it comes out. To that end, a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research offers strategies that speed up such research and make it more useful.

The study's authors call eHealth interventions complex and especially hard to study. "Rapid dissemination over the Internet not only increases the rate at which new interventions enter the field but also the rate at which extant interventions are rendered out-of-date and unappealing," they write. "Hence another irony: An intervention that is tested and experimentally validated before dissemination may become less widely used because its content, functions, and platform are no longer innovative by the time it is disseminated."

Efficiency strategies explored in the study include:

  • Think small: Small studies can target discrete, but significant questions
  • Study universals: Focus on timeless behavioral, psychological and cognitive principles and systems
  • Improve information delivery systems: Researchers should apply their communications expertise to enhance inter-researcher communication, the study's authors say
  • Focus on continuous quality improvement to help consumers identify quality and reduce the costs of care

"The challenges of distinguishing and distributing scientifically validated interventions are formidable," the study's authors conclude. They add that the strategies they present are meant to "spur discussion and further thinking."

This past December, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute approved $93.5 million to support 29 clinical research data networks it hopes to integrate to improve comparative effectiveness research. PCORI plans to combine the networks in a new resource known as PCORnet--the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network--to provide access to a large amount of diverse, nationally representative health information that can support a range of study designs.

A report published by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation in March of last year called evidence-supported decisions key to big data success.

To learn more:
- read the study in JMIR