Background: An increasing number of patients expect and want to play a greater role in their treatment and care decisions. This emphasizes the need to adopt collaborative health care practices, which implies collaboration among interprofessional health care teams and patients, their families, caregivers, and communities. In recent years, digital health technologies that support self-care and collaboration between the community and health care providers (ie, participatory health technologies) have received increasing attention. However, knowledge regarding the features of such technologies that support effective patient-professional partnerships is still limited.
Objective: This study aimed to map and assess published studies on participatory health technologies intended to support partnerships among patients, caregivers, and health care professionals in chronic care, focusing specifically on identifying the main features of these technologies.
Methods: A scoping review covering scientific publications in English between January 2008 and December 2020 was performed. We searched PubMed and Web of Science databases. Peer-reviewed qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies that evaluated digital health technologies for patient-professional partnerships in chronic care settings were included. The data were charted and analyzed thematically. The PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) checklist was used.
Results: This review included 32 studies, reported in 34 papers. The topic of participatory health technologies experienced a slightly increasing trend across publication years, with most papers originating from the United States and Norway. Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases were the most common conditions addressed. Of the 32 studies, 12 (38%) evaluated the influence of participatory health technologies on partnerships, mostly with positive outcomes, although we also identified how partnership relationships and the nature of collaborative work could be challenged when the roles and expectations between users were unclear. Six common features of participatory health technologies were identified: patient-professional communication, self-monitoring, tailored self-care support, self-care education, care planning, and community forums for peer-to-peer interactions.
Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the importance of clarifying mutual expectations and carefully considering the implications that the introduction of participatory health technologies may have on the work of patients and health care professionals, both individually and in collaboration. A knowledge gap remains regarding the use of participatory health technologies to effectively support patient-professional partnerships in chronic care management.