BACKGROUND: In academic research contexts, eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia have shown ample evidence of effectiveness. However, they are rarely implemented in practice, and much can be learned from their counterparts (commercial, governmental, or other origins) that are already being used in practice.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to examine a sample of case studies of eHealth interventions to support informal caregivers of people with dementia that are currently used in the Netherlands; to investigate what strategies are used to ensure the desirability, feasibility, viability, and sustainability of the interventions; and to apply the lessons learned from this practical, commercial implementation perspective to academically developed eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia.
METHODS: In step 1, experts (N=483) in the fields of dementia and eHealth were contacted and asked to recommend interventions that met the following criteria: delivered via the internet; suitable for informal caregivers of people with dementia; accessible in the Netherlands, either in Dutch or in English; and used in practice. The contacted experts were academics working on dementia and psychosocial innovations, industry professionals from eHealth software companies, clinicians, patient organizations, and people with dementia and their caregivers. In step 2, contact persons from the suggested eHealth interventions participated in a semistructured telephone interview. The results were analyzed using a multiple case study methodology.
RESULTS: In total, the response rate was 7.5% (36/483), and 21 eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia were recommended. Furthermore, 43% (9/21) of the interventions met all 4 criteria and were included in the sample for the case study analysis. Of these 9 interventions, 4 were found to have developed sustainable business models and 5 were implemented in a more exploratory manner and relied on research grants to varying extents, although some had also developed preliminary business models.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the desirability, feasibility, and viability of eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia are linked to their integration into larger structures, their ownership and support of content internally, their development of information and communication technology services externally, and their offer of fixed, low pricing. The origin of the case studies was also important, as eHealth interventions that had originated in an academic research context less reliably found their way to sustainable implementation. In addition, careful selection of digital transformation strategies, more intersectoral cooperation, and more funding for implementation and business modeling research are recommended to help future developers bring eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia into practice.
- business modeling