The process of evaluating e-health has to be conducted on the basis of an appropriate research approach that is recommended to be selected depending on the underlying characteristics of what is considered valid. Choosing a particular approach helps the researchers have a delimited direction, create a strategy to guide them and lends a particular style and specific methods to the research.
What this article intends to present is represented by aspects, principles and advice that must be taken into consideration when seeking a research approach in e-health.
Deciding upon a certain method of research to be deployed requires considering the following factors:
- the question and context of the research within the field of e-health (e.g how to identify the essential factors for the evaluation of e-health services?);
- the multiple facets of e-health, with its different roots and intricate relationships associated with employing information communications technologies, management, health regulations and governments policies;
- the great number of stakeholders that are engaged in e-health evaluation, each with particular values, needs and objectives.
If a group of researchers intends to conduct a study within a larger project that is going to progress through several phases, it is recommended to use a sequential multi-method approach. Thus, is open the path towards using an adequate method for each phase and creating the opportunity for multiple analyses on the same collected data.
Some researchers have adopted this approach in evaluating e-health services and divided their area of concern into two lines of study. The general point of interest is related to the behavior of users towards new services or products. As far as the lines of study are concerned, one regards diffusion of innovations, the other one the aspect of technology acceptance. The dichotomous study system enables researchers to perform a broad examination and critical analysis of the existing evaluation initiatives. A next phase involves interpreting the data obtained by means of analysis and then delineating potential improvements and implementing them. The final stage is based on the verification of the adaptability of the proposed measures.