Maintenance Notice

Due to necessary scheduled maintenance, the JMIR Publications website will be unavailable from Monday, March 11, 2019 at 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM EST. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Who will be affected?


Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Date Submitted: Jul 7, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jul 11, 2019 - Sep 5, 2019
(closed for review but you can still tweet)

NOTE: This is an unreviewed Preprint

Warning: This is a unreviewed preprint (What is a preprint?). Readers are warned that the document has not been peer-reviewed by expert/patient reviewers or an academic editor, may contain misleading claims, and is likely to undergo changes before final publication, if accepted, or may have been rejected/withdrawn (a note “no longer under consideration” will appear above).

Peer-review me: Readers with interest and expertise are encouraged to sign up as peer-reviewer, if the paper is within an open peer-review period (in this case, a “Peer-Review Me” button to sign up as reviewer is displayed above). All preprints currently open for review are listed here. Outside of the formal open peer-review period we encourage you to tweet about the preprint.

Citation: Please cite this preprint only for review purposes or for grant applications and CVs (if you are the author).

Final version: If our system detects a final peer-reviewed “version of record” (VoR) published in any journal, a link to that VoR will appear below. Readers are then encourage to cite the VoR instead of this preprint.

Settings: If you are the author, you can login and change the preprint display settings, but the preprint URL/DOI is supposed to be stable and citable, so it should not be removed once posted.

Submit: To post your own preprint, simply submit to any JMIR journal, and choose the appropriate settings to expose your submitted version as preprint.

eHealth: advantages, disadvantages and guiding principles for the future.

  • Bruno José Nievas Soriano; 
  • Sonia García Duarte; 
  • Ana María Fernández Alonso; 
  • Antonio Bonillo Perales; 
  • Tesifón Parrón Carreño; 



Information and communication technologies have changed the way we access, analyse and use health information. eHealth is a new concept that has been in use for almost two decades. Nevertheless, even today, there is little consensus on eHealth definitions, its main advantages or disadvantages and the future development of eHealth research.


This paper aims to define the concept of eHealth, recognise its main advantages and potential harms or challenges and acknowledge the aspects of eHealth that need to be explored in future research.


A literature review was conducted by searching all peer-reviewed articles published prior to February 2019 in PubMed. The search was conducted using the following keywords: «eHealth», «eHealth definition», «eHealth advantages», «eHealth problems» and «eHealth future». Of the numerous articles retrieved we analysed the titles, their abstracts, the language and if we could access full-text versions. We were able to select one hundred articles that included contents related to our objectives.


Of the one hundred articles reviewed, twenty studies contained eHealth definitions. The more mentioned aspects, within the definitions, were the information and communication technologies, health care delivery, the Internet and the importance of being user centred. Twenty nine articles mentioned advantages. The literature showed that the main advantage was that eHealth improved the accessibility to health information, followed by the chance of tailoring the health interventions. Other themes that emerged were user empowerment or the opportunity to reduce costs. Seventy three articles mentioned eHealth disadvantages. The most quoted was the poor quality of the information available, followed by the user’s difficulty to properly evaluate that quality, the existence of technical or not easily understandable information, or the risk of potential harms. Forty articles mentioned recommendations for future eHealth research. The most cited proposals were to improve user’s health and eHealth literacy, and health care providers implication in eHealth development and delivery.


Despite not finding consensus around the eHealth definition, we have found some features that can help to define eHealth as the delivery of user centred health care services through information and communication technologies, mainly Internet. The main advantages of using eHealth services are the improvement of accessibility to health, the opportunity to tailor the interventions, user empowerment and cost-effectiveness. Among the literature there are concerns about quality, information being intelligible, the digital divide or the risk of potential harms. Most mentioned guidelines for the future are to improve user’s health and eHealth literacy, health care providers implication in eHealth development and delivery, and the need of more research about the effectiveness of the eHealth interventions.


Please cite as:

Nievas Soriano BJ, García Duarte S, Fernández Alonso AM, Bonillo Perales A, Parrón Carreño T

eHealth: advantages, disadvantages and guiding principles for the future.

JMIR Preprints. 07/07/2019:15366

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.15366


Request queued. Please wait while the file is being generated. It may take some time.

© The authors. All rights reserved. This is a privileged document currently under peer-review/community review (or an accepted/rejected manuscript). Authors have provided JMIR Publications with an exclusive license to publish this preprint on it's website for review and ahead-of-print citation purposes only. While the final peer-reviewed paper may be licensed under a cc-by license on publication, at this stage authors and publisher expressively prohibit redistribution of this draft paper other than for review purposes.