Digital Professionalism: Challenges and Opportunities to Healthcare Professions

Digital Professionalism: Challenges and Opportunities to Healthcare Professions

Joana Vale Guerra (University of Coimbra, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8470-4.ch003

Abstract

The widespread use of digital technology allows for a number of transformations in the organization of work which renders the importance of professional and expert knowledge more open to challenges. The digital age is impacting and changing many aspects of professional development, therefore must be examined in its effects on reshaping healthcare professions and its implications on professional autonomy and discretionary judgment. To achieve this goal, advantages and disadvantages will be highlighted about the usage of electronic health record software to the healthcare professional's autonomy and discretionary power. The increased use of digital technologies is deeply affecting most professional occupations, transforming their identities, structures, and practices. In recognizing the challenges and opportunities to professional work of the digital transformation is underlined the importance of trying to understand how to remain professional in different digital environments and how to work in contexts with ambient surveillance.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Currently, we are witnessing a life time that enjoys the extraordinary development of new technologies, the multiplication of channels of communication and information, the superabundant consumption of the image and where the cyber world has become global and universal (Vago, 2004; Lipovetsky, 2013; Innerarity, 2010).

The digital revolution has been very pervasive to people, enterprises and even to structures as solid as governments and public administration. The digitization of just about everything is one of the most important phenomena of recent years (Brynjolfsson, 2016). The digital age can be defined as a historical period marked by the widespread use of digital technologies in different aspects of human activity, including the economy, politics and most forms of human interaction (Eurofund, 2018). The term digital describes generating, storing and processing data in a way that is considerably faster and more efficient than any previous means at society’s disposal (OECD, 2017). The increased use of digital technologies enables meaningful and useful information to be generated and shared, potentially creating much utility and value (idem).

The widespread use of digital technology allows for a number of transformations in the organization of work which renders the importance of professional and expert knowledge more open to challenges (Parton, 2000, 2008; Lorenz 2006; Carvalho, 2015). Several authors agree digitization enables immense amounts of information to be compressed on small storage devices that can be easily preserved, transported and also quickens data transmission speeds (Schafer, 2003). Since the mid-twentieth century digital technology has created new fields of potential professional work though undermined others. Commonly, the most mention changes are: the appearance of new professions and the extinction of others; the opening of virtual organizational contexts for work accomplishment; frontiers between public, private sectors and civil society are becoming blurred (emerging new forms of collaboration, e.g. public/private partnerships); new forms of competition, quality, trust and transparency requirements; new mechanisms of regulation, auditing and evaluation. Adding this, under the same technological leverage, consumer’s expectations have become more knowledgeable and thereafter more demanding (given the abundance of information associated with a hyper consumer profile).

The author assumes that digital age is impacting and changing many aspects of professional development, therefore must be examined in its effects on reshaping healthcare professions and its implications on professional autonomy and discretionary judgement. It has been well-established in Andrew Abbott’s Systems of Professions (1988) that the forces that impinge on professions reshaping arose within the professions and others are exogenous forces. From a wide field of possibilities to study, the main goal reflecting on the effect of digitalization on professionalism, emphasizes the interest in analyzing digitization as a source, an instrument and an outcome of professional changes and control at macro, mezzo and micro social levels (Ellaway, 2015; Evetts, 2014). To achieve this goal, advantages and disadvantages will be highlighted about the usage of electronic health record software to healthcare professional’s autonomy and discretionary power.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Standardization: Is a framework of agreements to which professionals in an organization must accept to ensure that all processes associated with the creation of a product or service are performed within set guidelines, achieving uniformity to certain practices or operations within the selected environment. It can be seen as a professional strategy to strengthen professional trust and provide a sense of certainty for professionals or it can be interpreted as a way to lose professionalization and as an adjustment to organizational demands.

Positive Technology: Technology designed to improve the quality of life representing a potential way to increase accessibility, affordability, and effectiveness of positive interventions in many areas of society, including health (e.g. Electronic Health Records, Mobile Health Apps, Telemedicine, electronic prescribing).

Professional Autonomy: The right or possibility to determine professional work, procedures, and tasks, because of the expert knowledge achieved in universities or practice.

Digital Health: Is representing a shift paradigm on healthcare and it is creating a different model of healthcare professional versus patient relationship. Software will be able to detail guidance about specific nutrition, supplements, exercise, medication and treatment for individuals. Consumer devices helping to monitor many aspects of life such as weight, vital signs, physical activity, sleep, skin resistance, perspiration and location.

Jurisdiction: Is based on abstract knowledge, express the capability of a profession to solve problems, find solutions for the good of people.

Interoperability: Is a way to communicate and data sharing through software to exchange and make use of information by different organizations, it allows to work in conjunction with each other.

Digital Professionalism: Is the competence or values expected of a professional when engaged in social and digital communication

Health Information Systems: Provide new information through its four main functions: data collection, processing, analysis and dissemination in order to enable decision-makers at multi-levels of the health system to identify problems and needs, make evidence-based decisions on health policy and allocate scarce resources on the most favorable way.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset