Healthcare :: How is the digitization of information impacting across the health service?

In a survey of 200 patients and their representatives, clinicians and other healthcare professionals (librarians and IT staff) from across eight NHS trusts, Professor Ann Blandford and Professor Peter Lunt have looked at the growing need to understand how digitization of health information will impact upon patients, staff and managers across the health service.

The main body of research focused on experiences and perceptions of digital libraries (sources of non-personal health information). The second part of the research looked at the introduction of new technologies in particular healthcare contexts including patient information, patient booking and patient record systems.

Findings from the project, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council?s E-Society Programme, show how technologies can be integrated into practice in different ways to that expected by those implementing and monitoring their use. This indicates that attention is required on areas such as:

designing technologies to fit with established working practices at the individual and team level within the NHS

ensuring that the values of workers are not at odds with the new technologies;

ensuring that users trust the technology; ensuring that the new technologies do not undermine health service workers? pride in their knowledge.

“Technologies can empower users and support their working practices, facilitate effective communication and improve efficiency. However if the shift toward the digitisation of health information is to result in improved performance and quality of life, then it is essential to understand the interrelationships between technology design and deployment and the roles ands relationships of the users of that technology,” comments Ann Blandford.

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