Title: IT in medical practice: an exploratory case study in Denmark's publicly financed healthcare system

Authors: Inger Marie Giversen, Urs E. Gattiker

Addresses: The County of Aarhus, Department of Health Promotion, Development and Research, Lyseng Alle 1, 8270 Hoejbjerg, Denmark. Aalborg University, Institute 9, Fibigerstraede 16, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark

Abstract: Medicine is under extreme and ongoing pressure to improve for the patient|s benefit, while at the same time fiscal restraints demand cost control. The application of information technology, such as the electronic medical record and telemedicine, can potentially redefine the practice of medicine as a whole, and in particular the work of general practitioners (GPs). In this case study, we interviewed a GP about his use of and experiences with information technology (IT), telemedicine, and the internet. Findings indicate that while the quality of healthcare delivery might be positively affected by new IT and informatics, other costs (e.g., investment and time spent to manage the technology properly) might simply offset any potential economic gains. We also found that GPs can use the internet to find information not only about rare diseases, but also and as importantly, about the latest treatments for more common ones. It can also provide patients with pertinent information. The data also indicates that in order to reap the potential benefits of telemedicine for both patients and healthcare experts, we must address certain legal issues and improve data integration between hospitals and GPs. We discuss these findings and their potential impact upon Denmark|s ongoing efforts to use IT and informatics more extensively in healthcare delivery, and outline implications for future research and practice.

Keywords: general practitioner; IT costs and benefits; medical informatics; quality of healthcare delivery; telemedicine.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHTM.2001.001103

International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management, 2001 Vol.3 No.1, pp.24-47

Available online: 30 Jun 2003 *

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