Patient and health care professional views and experiences of computer agent-supported health care

Ron Neville, Alexandra Greene, Sue Lewis


Objectives To explore patient and health care professional (HCP) views towards the use of multiagent computer systems in their GP practice.
Design Qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews and analysis of transcriptions.
Setting Urban health centre in Dundee, Scotland.
Participants Five representative healthcare professionals and 11 patients.
Main outcome measures Emergent themes from interviews revealed participants' attitudes and beliefs, which were coded and indexed.
Results Patients and HCPs had similar beliefs, attitudes and views towards the implementation of multi-agent systems (MAS). Both felt modern communication methods were useful to supplement, not supplant, face-to-face consultations between doctors and patients. This was based on the immense trust these patients placed in their doctors in this practice, which extended to trust in their choice of communication technology and security. Rapid access to medical information increased patients' sense of shared partnership and self-efficacy. Patients and HCPs expressed respect for each other's time and were keen to embrace technology that made interactions more efficient, including for the altruistic benefit of others less technically competent.
Conclusions Patients and HCPs welcomed the introduction of agent technology to the delivery of health care. Widespread use will depend more on the trust patients place in their own GP than on technological issues.


agents; email; health care; texting

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