Meaningful patient and public involvement in digital health innovation, implementation and evaluation: A systematic review
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INTRODUCTION: The importance of meaningfully involving patients and the public in digital health innovation is widely acknowledged, but often poorly understood. This review, therefore, sought to explore how patients and the public are involved in digital health innovation and to identify factors that support and inhibit meaningful patient and public involvement (PPI) in digital health innovation, implementation and evaluation. METHODS: Searches were undertaken from 2010 to July 2020 in the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus and ACM Digital Library. Grey literature searches were also undertaken using the Patient Experience Library database and Google Scholar. RESULTS: Of the 10,540 articles identified, 433 were included. The majority of included articles were published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, with representation from 42 countries highlighting the international relevance of PPI in digital health. 112 topic areas where PPI had reportedly taken place were identified. Areas most often described included cancer (n = 50), mental health (n = 43), diabetes (n = 26) and long-term conditions (n = 19). Interestingly, over 133 terms were used to describe PPI; few were explicitly defined. Patients were often most involved in the final, passive stages of an innovation journey, for example, usability testing, where the ability to proactively influence change was severely limited. Common barriers to achieving meaningful PPI included data privacy and security concerns, not involving patients early enough and lack of trust. Suggested enablers were often designed to counteract such challenges. CONCLUSIONS: PPI is largely viewed as valuable and essential in digital health innovation, but rarely practised. Several barriers exist for both innovators and patients, which currently limits the quality, frequency and duration of PPI in digital health innovation, although improvements have been made in the past decade. Some reported barriers and enablers such as the importance of data privacy and security appear to be unique to PPI in digital innovation. Greater efforts should be made to support innovators and patients to become meaningfully involved in digital health innovations from the outset, given its reported benefits and impacts. Stakeholder consensus on the principles that underpin meaningful PPI in digital health innovation would be helpful in providing evidence-based guidance on how to achieve this. PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: This review has received extensive patient and public contributions with a representative from the Patient Experience Library involved throughout the review's conception, from design (including suggested revisions to the search strategy) through to article production and dissemination. Other areas of patient and public contributor involvement include contributing to the inductive thematic analysis process, refining the thematic framework and finalizing theme wording, helping to ensure relevance, value and meaning from a patient perspective. Findings from this review have also been presented to a variety of stakeholders including patients, patient advocates and clinicians through a series of focus groups and webinars. Given their extensive involvement, the representative from the Patient Experience Library is rightly included as an author of this review.
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