Today a blog post I wrote a while ago for a Swedish life science blog was published. As it is in Swedish I figured I might as well translate it and publish it for you here to! So enjoy:
Research crossing boundaries
I often think of my health informatics research as crossing boundaries. There are so many boundaries within healthcare today, and through my work I try to create continuity across these boundaries using information and communication technology (ICT). Here, I would like to discuss some the boundaries my research focuses on.
The boundary between healthcare and social care – as we live longer there is an increasing number of individuals requiring both healthcare and social services such as public or private home help services (i.e. aid with housekeeping, cooking and personal hygiene). Different legislation govern the documentation and use of health related information in these areas, but the need to coordinate and communicate across the boundaries between healthcare and social care organizations is increasing for many patient groups. To what extent should information be shared between healthcare and social services? How can new ICT solutions be developed to provide control over information sharing and empowerment for care recipients?
The boundary between care providers and care recipients/patients – having access to information is considered a source of power; to be able to make informed decisions about my own health I as a patient/citizen demand direct access to my health related information. But how does this progress affect the design and implementation of health ICT? How can the work tools that care professionals use change to meet the new requirements? How will this affect how healthcare is organized? How will roles and responsibilities be changed – e.g. what role will family carers play when it comes to information access and decision making in a future where patients are given increasing access to and control over their own health information?
As new technology is introduced which creates new possibilities for both care providers, care professional and patients/citizens issues regarding where the boundaries are and who has control over information flow are accentuated. Questions that are debated in Sweden today concern the responsibility for preventive care and support in life-style change, the patients access to their health records (should the patient be allowed to read everything and who determines where the line should be drawn?), and how should information be shared within and between care provider organizations?
I hope that my research can provide answers to a few questions, and I’m sure it will create a few more… but the important thing is to keep asking the right questions!