In a blog post from last spring I wrote about my new membership in the eHealth council, which belongs to the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden. I missed the first meetings due to teaching activities and bad health respectively, but last week I finally made it to my first meeting with the council. It was a very interesting experience. The council meets four times a year, so this was the last meeting 2017. The main focus seems to be on information structures and how to make sure that different county councils e.g. use the same terminology and systems. I will here present some of my experiences from the meeting, without going into too much detail since it doesn’t seem right to blog publicly about what was discussed.
As I have mentioned earlier, many different areas are represented in the council. I currently represent Uppsala University and more specifically “Education”. I don’t really get why that is my main topic, since a representative for “Research” would be just as valuable. Anyhow, coming from a university I represent both education and research and as a matter of fact everything I said during this particular meeting was related to research and possible collaborations with academia.
In the blog post linked above I list more of the roles/organizations that were represented in the council. I think the diversity is one of the strengths of the council – since both healthcare organizations, a few government agencies, healthcare professionals and even patients are represented you can make sure that all important parties are involved when discussing important topics related to e.g. the future of eHealth solutions and how information should be structured in a way that would work for everyone. There was one exception, though. No one in particular seemed to represent “Research”. One could argue that I represent that domain, as I mentioned above, but it is not explicitly stated anywhere. I think a connection to research is extremely important in a council like this.
Several different projects were presented and discussed and I really liked the focus on the user (most often healthcare professionals). In most presentations it was highlighted that healthcare professionals play an important role in projects and policy decisions related to eHealth. This is exactly how it should be!
My input during the meetings mostly concerned the importance of bringing researchers into the different projects. I even suggested research collaborations in some cases, but we will see what happens with that. Since the projects discussed in the council (at least for the moment) focus a lot on user involvement in design and decision processes, I really think HCI researchers can support the projects and at the same time conduct research that will inform future design and decision processes. After the meeting I also brought up Journalen (the patient accessible electronic health record system in Sweden), which is the focus of my own research. When it comes to differences between county councils we have some issues there, like e.g. that the amount of information visible to the patient varies greatly between county councils and that the rules on when to present information differs. This really caught some participants’ interest, so we can definitely expect Journalen to be a topic at a later meeting!