• Kristina Tornbjerg
4. term, Techno-Anthropology, Master (Master Programme)
Technological solutions with the intentions to ease various aspects of people’s everyday and working lives are under rapid and constant development. The designers of technological solutions have wide ranges of ideas and innovations that contribute to create growth opportunities. But there is only little evaluation of the pioneering new technology, though. Such requires parameters for assessment – which are difficult to develop, because they are found in the complex intersection between technology and people: there is a need to understand both technology and its users. For example, there is merely little evaluation of the national Danish e-health portal, Sundhed.dk. One of the aims of the portal is that the citizens must achieve empowerment (for example by reaching ones personal health data, through the available EHR) in order to be able to take care of ones health. But there does not seem to be assessments of whether the citizens actually do get empowered by using Sundhed.dk.

This techno-anthropological master’s thesis aims to explore the Danish citizens’ use of the national Danish e-health portal, Sundhed.dk, in order to assess if their use is compatible with one of the aims the organisation behind the portal has set up for the citizens’ use: empowerment of the citizens.
The background for the thesis was an international questionnaire survey I did in collaboration with Danish Centre for Health Informatics and MEGAFON, about the Danes’ use of e-health. Through the survey it became clear that the citizens’ notions of empowerment were various, which called for further investigation, done through this techno-anthropological master’s thesis.
In order to make things move and gain knowledge upon the field of empowerment, the study deals with a literature review of the concept of patient empowerment, including that it takes a shift in healthcare paradigms, in order to make the empowerment approach possible.
The methods used to gain insight into the citizens’ use and outcome of e-health, in terms of patient empowerment, was a mix of personas and semi-structured interview, in the setting of workshops.
To have a frame of reference for the citizens’ notion of empowerment, besides the literature review, an interview with the organisation behind the national Danish e-health portal took place. Hereby the organisation’s notions of how citizens can achieve empowerment, were elaborated.
The study found that the citizens and the key informants from the organisation behind Sundhed.dk did not have the same notion of empowerment, but did have identical conceptions of how to achieve it, comprising preparations to physical meetings with the healthcare system. This is problematic though, since some of the tools for preparations are unfamiliar to the citizens. When logged into their EHR, citizens can have a hard time understanding the data they can look at, because of the linguistic differences between medical professionals and citizens. Furthermore the citizens do not have the possibility to enrich their EHR with own personal scribbling, whereby the EHR seems unfamiliar and of minor importance.
This master’s thesis argues that some of the complications around the empowerment approach possibly are caused by the difficulties arising when having to adapt to a new way of operating within healthcare, which the empowerment approach calls for. For example, health professionals’ will have to let go of their supremacy and cooperate with the citizens, instead of keeping an obsolete distance to them, in order to not hinder the empowerment of the citizens, which can be complicated.

Publication date4 Jun 2014
Number of pages80
ID: 198451758