How digitisation impacts on people

UK - Looking at the growing need to understand how digitisation of health information will impact upon patients, staff and managers across the health service, Professor Ann Blandford of the University College London, and Professor Peter Lunt, surveyed 200 patients as well as their representatives, clinicians and other healthcare professionals (librarians and IT staff) working in eight NHS trusts.

Professor Ann Blandford of the University College London
Professor Ann Blandford of the University College London

The main body of research focused on experiences and perceptions of digital libraries (sources of non-personal health information). The second part 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 those expected by the people implementing and monitoring their use. This indicates that attention is needed to focus on areas such a:
- 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,’ Ann Blandford said. ‘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 and relationships of the users of that technology.’

A PDF on the research ‘Co-Evolving Roles and Technologies in the NHS: Barrier and Forces for Change’ can be obtained at the e-Society website: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/e-society/projects/8/8briefingdoc.pdf
This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK’s largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. The ESRC E-Society Programme is the largest-ever academic research programme to investigate the impact of digital technologies, particularly the internet, on society: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/e-society/

26.06.2007

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