Adoption of ICT in Implementing Primary Health Care: Achievements of the Twenty-First Century

Adoption of ICT in Implementing Primary Health Care: Achievements of the Twenty-First Century

Quazi Omar Faruq (Victoria University, Australia) and Arthur Tatnall (Victoria University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9863-3.ch020
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For a new technology to be put into use, a decision must be made to adopt it or at least some aspects of it. This article discusses the introduction and use of information and communication technologies in primary healthcare and investigates reasons for adoption, or non-adoption, or these technologies. In particular, the article looks at use of ICT by medical general practitioners, eHealth and the Virtual Doctor Program. The context is adoption of healthcare technologies in the Australian environment, and Information Translation is used as a lens to investigate this.
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General Practice Around The World

Today in Australia a GP has to manage the following activities to effectively fulfil his or her role in the health care team (RACGP, 2014):

  • 1.

    Client management through history taking, examining, investigating, and providing treatment

  • 2.

    Using appropriate equipment by understanding the availability of ‘state of the art’ items in the profession, procuring and maintaining it

  • 3.

    Ensuring physical and mental fitness

  • 4.

    Record keeping with efficient and quick retrieval system, maintaining privacy and confidentiality

  • 5.

    Time management by visiting clients in an allocated time

  • 6.

    Referring clients to other services with updated knowledge about services and adopting easy and quick referring procedures

  • 7.

    Knowledge gathering and updating – by attending training, seminars and reading references

  • 8.

    Empowering clients by disseminating knowledge (e.g. handbill, video)

  • 9.

    Conflict management – to avoid conflict between ethics, profession and business interests

The key role of general practice in the UK, and that of family practice in the USA in the primary care-led National Health Services, initiated around 1995 (Onion and Berrington, 1999). The benefit of that initiative is reflected in a survey that shows citizens of countries with organised primary health care systems enjoy better health and fewer health inequalities (Starfield, Shi, Macinko, 2005). The individual country efforts are enhanced by international bodies like the World Organisation of National Colleges, Academics and Academic Associations of General Practitioners and Family Physicians (WONCA). In 2014 WONCA had 126 member organisations in 102 countries with a membership of around 300,000 family doctors (WONCA 2014), through communication with GP societies and government officials in the health sectors of the respective countries.

In countries with regulated primary healthcare, general practitioners became the gate keepers of the public health system. Entry to the secondary or tertiary level hospitals is regulated by referral from a GP or through emergency. A primary care provider may be called a GP or Family Practitioner (FP) with the task of guiding individuals, and also their family, on a variety of health care and wellness issues.

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