Olga Navarro is a nurse and has worked in online learning in the health sector for more than ten years. She was business development director for an online learning company and works in online training for the health sector.
When the world of e-health was still emerging in Spain, Olga Navarro was leading a project called Tekuidamos. It was an online platform that put health professionals in touch with each other and which managed to spark an interest in how the world of technology and social media could aid the health sector.
She is currently working as a professor at the Valencia Catholic University and completing her doctoral degree at the Universitat Politècnica de València, where she is being supervised by Vicente Traver. Navarro has completed a research stay at the eHealth Center in July, so we decided to find out a bit more about her project.
What is the aim of your doctoral thesis?
My aim is to see whether training nurses in e-health, something that I have been working on for so many years, actually has an impact on patients. In other words, does the fact that nurses know how to use digital tools, that they understand the online world and can create content, actually help patients?
I’ve spent my whole life training nurses, but I still don’t know if this results in better nursing practices. I want my thesis to demonstrate that patients really benefit when health professionals receive better training in these types of tools.
What effect do you think these professionals’ digital training will have on patients?
We started with the idea that health professionals give advice and guidance and that patients look for unfiltered information online, without having anyone to consult about what they find. If we can bring these two contexts into play and transform our advice into something that patients understand, in their own language and via an easy-to-reach channel like a WhatsApp message or a Tweet, we will have managed to improve this process. Therefore, patients who receive advice or find it online will be consulting a valid and trustworthy source that’s based on scientific evidence.
The trouble is that if these professionals lack training in digital skills, they won’t be able to help patients with this process. That means that it might be necessary for us to first acquire training to then be able to help patients. We could even help them to generate their own resources: in fact, some patients already create their own blogs and videos. There’s some really great information out there!
Are we talking about literacy in e-health?
Yes, that’s the idea: making e-health understandable. In this case I’m focusing particularly on nurses because it’s what I know, but all health professionals should be receiving training in these matters, not just nurses. Of course, all of us in the health sector form part of a team and all of us, including doctors and everyone else in the sector, need to be trained in e-health in order to guide our patients, which ultimately is our end goal.
Why did you choose the eHealth Center?
I am here because there are few centres in Spain that understand e-health and health technology like they do here at the eHealth Center. It’s the same way I understand it. Most universities tend to offer very little regulated information on these topics and little research is done on e-health. Here at the UOC, there is a group dedicated specifically to that very issue. It was only logical that we meet at some point. I have also collaborated with Manuel Armayones on various projects and this was the chance we were looking for to bring our ideas to life.
How long are you going to be here?
I've been here for ten days. I’m leaving this Friday but I hope to return during the next academic year to continue my research. Lots of doors have opened up, which is what happens when you step out of your comfort zone. New projects and ideas have presented themselves and it is now time for me to go back home, organize them and analyse them, but it's all really very interesting.
I invite everyone to step out of their comfort zone and find out what’s going on in other places, because it can really change the way you think.