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The Paradox of Community Informatics in the Health Care Sector
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Political Science . Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Political Science . Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2010 (English)In: Vision and Reality in Community Informatics.: CIRN -DIAC Conference Proceedings: Prato, Italy 27-29 October 2010 / [ed] Larry Stillman, Ricardo Gomez, 2010Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Local health care centres (publicly funded primary health care) play an important role for most people. This is where the citizens are most likely to have their first contact with the health care system if they get ill or injured; this is where different groups of chronics go to do their routine check ups and where elderly citizens get qualified medical care. The health care centres also often include a child health centre, where parents regularly bring their small children so that the medical staff can give insurance that the children are growing and developing the way they should. The health care centres are an important part of the infrastructure in communities. In small villages, the staff is also quite familiar with the patients they give service to. Recently most local health care centres have improved their use of informatics for administration and patient contacts.

Our field studies of community health care centres concern the use of a new electronic system for patient’s medical records in a health care organisation. This ICT solution brings that the medical records are now tied to the patient, rather than to a specific health care unit. This means that the patient’s medical records are always available for the staff at any of the units within the health care organisation. Thereby, the staff at a local health care centre has faster and more complete access to medical information than before, which means that they can be more efficient and professional in care giving and contribute better.

Our results indicate that the new electronic medical records makes physical place less important in order to give qualitative care, while they at the same time strengthens the health care centres central role in the community. An indication is that there is a potential for even more empowerment of the local community and people’s connectedness to the community.

The concluding impression is that community informatics in the health care sector is characterized by a paradox. It works in different directions at the same time: It expands the community in the sense that the flow of medical information increase, but at the same time it strengthens the community as a physical place since the health care centres gets an even stronger role. The aim of this paper is to verify this paradox from a Swedish case study and discuss its general and even global implications on community informatics in the health care sector. The preliminary conclusion is that small communities still can become empowered by the use of new health care informatics.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
health care centre, local community, ICT, sense of community
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63178ISBN: 978-0-9581058-8-0OAI: diva2:376755
CIRN -DIAC Conference 2010
Available from: 2010-12-13 Created: 2010-12-13 Last updated: 2010-12-30

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