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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A dialogue-based web application enhances personalized access to healthcare professionals – an intervention study

Charlotte D Bjoernes1*, Birgitte S Laursen2, Charlotte Delmar3, Elizabeth Cummings4 and Christian Nøhr5

Author affiliations

1 Department of Development and Planning, Danish Centre for Health Informatics, Aalborg University, Vestre Havnepromenade 5 1. sal, DK-9000, Aalborg, Denmark

2 The Clinical Nursing Research Unit, Aalborg Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

3 Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

4 Health Services Research Group, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, CIS, Australia

5 Department of Development and Planning, Danish Centre for Health Informatics, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:96  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-96

Published: 4 September 2012



In today’s short stay hospital settings the contact time for patients is reduced. However, it seems to be more important for the patients that the healthcare professionals are easy to get in contact with during the whole course of treatment, and to have the opportunity to exchange information, as a basis for obtaining individualized information and support. Therefore, the aim was to explore the ability of a dialogue-based application to contribute to accessibility of the healthcare professionals and exchangeability of information.


An application for online written and asynchronous contacts was developed, implemented in clinical practice, and evaluated. The qualitative effect of the online contact was explored using a Web-based survey comprised of open-ended questions.


Patients valued the online contacts and experienced feelings of partnership in dialogue, in a flexible and calm environment, which supported their ability to be active partners and feelings of freedom and security.


The online asynchronous written environment can contribute to accessibility and exchangeability, and add new possibilities for dialogues from which the patients can benefit. The individualized information obtained via online contact empowers the patients. The Internet-based contacts are a way to differentiate and expand the possibilities for contacts outside the few scheduled face-to-face hospital contacts.

Health informatics; Internet communication; Prostate cancer; Short stay patients; Empowerment