An exploration of ehealth and digital literacy in pharmacy practice.
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The aim of this research programme was to explore ehealth technology in pharmacy practice in Scotland and, by doing so, contribute original knowledge to this area. Strategists worldwide believe technology has the potential to promote quality, safety and efficiency in healthcare. This has been reflected in national ehealth policies designed to support collaborative working between medical and non-medical healthcare practitioners and, more recently, the whole health and social care team. A meta-narrative systematic review was conducted to explore and contextualise research related to healthcare professionals’ views of the adoption of ehealth technologies to support shared care. Findings indicate the importance of organisational development and training for core and optional ehealth services with pharmacists particularly under-represented in ehealth research. Socio-technical systems theory and the computer supported cooperative working framework were adopted to explore healthcare practitioners’ perceptions of ehealth in relation to integrated care. Findings from the review indicate ehealth research continues to focus on doctors and nurses. No ehealth application was perceived to be an unqualified success with the socio-technical gap still evident. Multiple case studies were conducted to develop explanatory theory around the digital literacy experiences, education and training related needs of pharmacy staff in the NHS Grampian area. Digital literacy levels were self-reported as basic with mixed views on the need for formal education and training. Findings indicate organisational and social factors may act as restraining forces against implementation of technology in pharmacy and associated digital literacy training. A final theory testing, systematic review was conducted into digital literacy training experiences of pharmacy staff applying Kirkpatrick’s four level model. It found a lack of evidence of specific, measurable digital literacy levels but indications that suggest digital literacy should be included in pharmacy education at all levels and career stages. This research provides novel insight into ehealth and digital literacy in pharmacy practice. Combined ehealth, education and pharmacy research has been demonstrated to be an under-researched area therefore these findings contribute original knowledge.