Physician leadership in e-health? A systematic literature review

Wouter Keijser, Jacco Smits, Lisanne Penterman, Celeste Wilderom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper aims to systematically review the literature on roles of physicians in virtual teams (VTs) delivering healthcare for effective “physician e-leadership” (PeL) and implementation of e-health.

Design/methodology/approach: The analyzed studies were retrieved with explicit keywords and criteria, including snowball sampling. They were synthesized with existing theoretical models on VT research, healthcare team competencies and medical leadership.

Findings: Six domains for further PeL inquiry are delineated: resources, task processes, socio-emotional processes, leadership in VTs, virtual physician-patient relationship and change management. We show that, to date, PeL studies on socio-technical dynamics and their consequences on e-health are found underrepresented in the health literature; i.e. no single empirical, theoretic or conceptual study with a focus on PeL in virtual healthcare work was identified.

Research limitations/implications: E-health practices could benefit from organization-behavioral type of research for discerning effective physicians’ roles and inter-professional relations and their (so far) seemingly modest but potent impact on e-health developments.

Practical implications: Although best practices in e-health care have already been identified, this paper shows that physicians’ roles in e-health initiatives have not yet received any in-depth study. This raises questions such as are physicians not yet sufficiently involved in e-health? If so, what (dis)advantages may this have for current e-health investments and how can they best become involved in (leading) e-health applications’ design and implementation in the field?

Originality/value: If effective medical leadership is being deployed, e-health effectiveness may be enhanced; this new proposition needs urgent empirical scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-347
JournalLeadership in health services
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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