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27-12-2012 | Legal medicine | Article

Ease of use, usefulness keep patients e-happy


Free abstract

medwireNews: Ensuring that patients are loyal toward targeted online services comes down to whether they perceive the service to be useful and that the service is easy to use, report Spanish researchers.

Their study shows that patients' "e-loyalty" is linked to acceptance of novel technology via satisfaction, indicating that a positive attitude toward online services leads to user satisfaction and use.

The three main ways to coordinate technology acceptance are therefore to improve the belief that online healthcare services can offer advantages to patients' experiences, to incorporate ease of use into the design of online services, and to ensure that the majority of a patient population uses the service, thereby encouraging the remainder of patients to use it.

"Because the implementation of e-services means a large investment, patients' e-loyalty intent is essential to avoid wasted resources," write Eva Martínez-Caro (Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena) and colleagues in Health Care Management Review.

The team surveyed 256 online healthcare services users aged between 18 and 81 years, to assess perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, attitude, satisfaction, and e-loyalty intent. The online healthcare service in the study enabled patients to book doctor's appointments, check waiting lists, and share information with others, among other organizational activities.

Analysis of participants' responses showed highly significant relationships between perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, satisfaction, attitude (for example, patient responses such as: "In my opinion, it is desirable to use these services."), and e-loyalty.

The researchers report no significant differences in their findings according to participants' gender.

Martínez-Caro and co-investigators believe their findings show that a "technology acceptance model" (TAM) could be a necessary part of implementing novel healthcare services, and that in their study, TAM significantly affected user behavioral intent.

"Another possible research direction could extend the range of indicators and measures by identifying common measures for patients, clinicians, staff, managers, and board members," the team concludes.

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

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