The Effect of Gender on Perceived Benefits of and Drivers for ICT Adoption in Australian Medical Practices

The Effect of Gender on Perceived Benefits of and Drivers for ICT Adoption in Australian Medical Practices

Robert C. MacGregor (University of Wollongong, Australia), Peter N. Hyland (University of Wollongong, Australia) and Charles Harvie (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/jep.2011010105
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Similar to other Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), medical practices can gain a great deal by adopting and using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Unlike other SMEs, little is known about General Practitioners’ (GPs) perceptions of the benefits of ICT use or about the differences between these perceptions by male and female GPs. This paper reports a survey of these perceptions of the drivers for and benefits of ICT use by male and female GPs in Australia.
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The advent of affordable Internet-based information and communication technology (ICT) has led the healthcare sector to use such technologies to improve patient care and reduce business inefficiencies within General Practice (GP). This has been recognised by the World Health Assembly, who, in 1997, saw technology as one of many parts of sustainable health systems and, in 2005, saw technology as a means of leveraging health-for-all through the interchange of information (Kirigia, Seddoh, Gatwiri, Muthuri, & Seddoh, 2005). From the late 90s studies appeared detailing the design of clinical ICT systems (see Baldwin, Clarke & Jones, 2002; Pelletier-Fleury et al., 1999) the use of such systems within medical practices (Shohet & Lavy, 2004; Waring & Wainwright, 2002) and the decision-making behind ICT adoption (Didham, Martin, Wood, & Harrison, 2004; Pan & Pokharel, 2007). Studies in New Zealand (Didham et al., 2004), showed that time, costs and perceived lack of IT skill were important considerations for GPs when evaluating ICT use, Lee Cain, Chockley and Burstin (2005) found practice size and standardisation of work were of concern to many doctors, while Simon et al. (2007) found practice size and the type of care being offered were statistically associated with the perception of both drivers for and barriers against ICT adoption.

Several studies have examined the potential benefits of ICT adoption and use in general practices. El-Sayed and Westrup (2003) suggest that ICT use in medical practices improves communication within and outside the practice, makes the business side of the practice more effective and builds new business initiatives. Baldwin et al. (2002) suggest that ICTs enable complex interactions between GPs, consultants, patients and nurses. Fors and Moreno (2002) suggest that ICTs, in medical practices, alter day-to-day procedures, making the final product more effective, while Ray and Mukherjee (2007) note that ICT use improves governance and planning.

While several studies have investigated the benefits of and drivers for ICT adoption, no studies have determined whether giving priority to one driving force leads to a perception of improvement in specific benefits. Similarly, while studies have explored gender differences in the adoption and use of internet-based technology (Rodgers & Harris, 2003; Yang & Lester, 2005), no studies have determined the relationship between priority given to driving forces and perceived benefits of ICT adoption between male and female GPs.

This paper aims to address that gap. The paper begins by examining the nature of ICT in medical practices and the driving forces behind the adoption process and benefits derivable from their adoption. As most medical practices in Australia are small businesses, the paper examines gender differences both from a small business perspective and a medical perspective. The paper presents a study of 196 GPs (128 males, 68 females) who have adopted ICT in their practice. A series of factor analyses were applied to the driving forces behind ICT adoption to determine the groupings of driving forces and the groupings of benefits for male and female GP respondents. Using these groupings a partial least square model was developed and tested to determine whether there are gender differences between perception of importance of driving forces and perception of subsequent benefits.

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