Developing a Model of Community of Practice Among Health Informatics Professionals in South and Southeast Asia

  • Aliyah Lou Arriola Evangelista Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University
  • Jaranit Kaewkungwal Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University
  • Boonchai Kijsanayotin Thai Health Information Standards Centre, Ministry of Public Health
  • Ngamphol Soonthornworasiri Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University
Keywords: Asia, capacity building, medical informatics, knowledge, social support


There is still debate on whether communities of practice (COP) can be formed or created. Many have claimed that they provide a venue to share knowledge which translates to action. In South and Southeast Asia, international development partners have invested in many capacity building initiatives to set-up and/or improve eHealth implementations in countries. While interest and resources for this increase, many challenges are still left unresolved due to repeated mistakes and undocumented experiences. The Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) is a community of health informatics professionals organised to share knowledge and improve the use of ICT in health systems strengthening. Objectives: This study examined how AeHIN emerged as a knowledge sharing platform, identified best practices it adopted, and developed a model that could sustain itself as a COP. Methods: A sociometric survey was used to map knowledge sharing connections of pioneer members with interviews to substantiate findings and a 20-hour participant observation to triangulate data. UCINET 6.0 was used to analyse social network data while qualitative data were coded. Results: Defining roles of health informatics professionals inside the COP influences the type of information, resources, and capacities that can enter a network. The nature of its subgroups determines potentials and barriers to the network. Twelve best practices were identified to sustain a health informatics COP. It is recommended that a learning network is an appropriate model for this type of COP and an understanding of country-specific political structure is important to support participation. Conclusion: AeHIN is a COP model whose activities have a life of their own. While some prove successful, others die down or are discontinued. This unique design proved to be fitting for a group of health informatics professionals as it accommodates success and failures crucial for project implementations.

Author Biography

Aliyah Lou Arriola Evangelista, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University

Aliyah Lou A. Evangelista

Department of Tropical Hygiene, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University

420/6 Rajvithi Road, Thungphyathai, Rajthevee, Bangkok 10400, Thailand


Nambisan P. Information seeking and social support in online health communities: impact on patients' perceived empathy. JAMIA 2011;18(3):298-304.

Lave J, Wenger E. Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Lau F, Hayward R. Building a virtual network in a community health research training program. JAMIA 2000;7(4):361-377.

Smithson J, Jones RB, Ashurst E. Developing an online learning community for mental health professionals and service users: a discursive analysis. BMC Med Educ 2012;12(1):12.

Zhao K, Yen J, Greer G, et al. Finding influential users of online health communities: a new metric based on sentiment influence. JAMIA 2014;21(e2):e212-218.

Alali HS, Salim J. Proced Technol 2013;11:176-183.

Rouhshad A, Wigglesworth G, Storch N. The nature of negotiations in face-to-face versus computer-mediated communication in pair interactions. Lang Teach Res 2016;20(4):514-534.

Li L, Grimshaw JM, Nielsen, et al. Use of communities of practice in business and health care sectors: a systematic review. Implement Sci 2009;4(1):27.

Nath C, Huh J, Adupa AK, Jonnalagadda SR. Website sharing in online health communities: a descriptive analysis. JMIR 2016;18(1):e11.

Merill J, Hripcsak HG. Using social network analysis within a department of biomedical informatics to induce a discussion of academic communities of practice. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2008;15(6):780-782.

Malin B, Carley K. A longitudinal social network analysis of the editorial boards of medical informatics and bioinformatics journals. JAMIA 2007;14(3):340-348.

How to Cite
Evangelista, A. L., Kaewkungwal, J., Kijsanayotin, B., & Soonthornworasiri, N. (2017). Developing a Model of Community of Practice Among Health Informatics Professionals in South and Southeast Asia. Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and EHealth, 5, (GKR);e63:(1-7). Retrieved from
Global Telemedicine and eHealth Updates. Knowledge Resources. Vol. 10, 2017