Many information technology (IT) products have been developed to support medical general practitioners (GP) in all aspects of their work (GPSRG 1998), and much research and development in this area has already been done. It is apparent, however, that GPs are not making as much use of these systems as they could. Our research had shown that there is still reluctance, in particular, from many rural general practitioners to fully implement Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in primary health care in rural Australia (Everitt and Tatnall 2003). While a simple analysis of the statistics of the numbers of computers in medical practice shows that there are computers in most general practices it is not so clear how, or even whether, they are being used. Rural GPs, however, operate very much in the mode of small business (Burgess and Trethowan 2002). Some national research shows that GPs use ICT mainly for administrative and some clinical functions but that much less use is made of online functions (NHIMAC 1999; GPCG 2001). This is even more pronounced for rural GPs.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Practice Manager: The administrative (i.e., nonmedical) manager of a medical general practice.
Innovation Diffusion: A theory of innovation in which the main elements are characteristics of the innovation itself, the nature of the communication channels, the passage of time, and the social system through which the innovation diffuses.
Actor-Network Theory: An approach to research in which networks associations and interactions among actors (both human and nonhuman) and are the basis for investigation.
Innovation Translation: A theory of innovation in which, instead of using an innovation in the form it is proposed, potential adopters translate into a form that suits their needs.
Australian Divisions of General Practice Ltd: The peak national body?representing 121 local groupings of GP, known as Divisions of General Practice, across?Australia.
General Practitioner (GP): A General Practitioner (known in some countries as a Family Physician) is a medical doctor who provides primary care, treats acute and chronic illnesses, and provides preventive care and health education.
Essentialism: The philosophical view that for some specific entity there is a finite list of characteristics that determine its nature.