Information and communication technology is often lauded as the key to enhancing communication among health care providers. However, its impact on interprofessional collaboration is unclear. The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which it improves communication and, subsequently, enhances interprofessional collaboration in chronic disease management.
A systematic review of academic literature using two electronic platforms: HealthSTAR and Web of Science (core collection and MEDLINE). To be eligible for inclusion in the review, articles needed to be peer-reviewed; accessible in English and focused on how technology supports, or might support, collaboration (through enhanced communication) in chronic disease management. Studies were assessed for quality and a narrative synthesis conducted.
The searches identified 289 articles of which six were included in the final analysis (three used qualitative methods, two were descriptive and one used mixed methods). Various forms of information and communication technology were described including electronic health records, online communities/learning resources and telehealth/telecare. Three themes emerged from the studies that may provide insights into how communication that facilitates collaboration in chronic disease management might be enhanced: professional conflict, collective engagement and continuous learning.
The success of technology in enhancing collaboration for chronic disease management depends upon supporting the social relationships and organization in which the technology will be placed. Decision-makers should take into account and work toward balancing the impact of technology together with the professional and cultural characteristics of health care teams.