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Theory of use behind telehealth applications.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Studies in health technology and informatics
Publication Date
Volume
64
Pages
29–38
Identifiers
PMID: 10747550
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

A variety of telehealth applications have been implemented throughout the industrialized world. Given that telehealth has yet to become routine in the practices of physicians, the impact of such applications on health care management remains difficult to identify. Only by becoming integrated into the 'normal practice' of clinicians can telehealth facilitate smooth communications in health care delivery processes. In this paper we demonstrate the importance of developing a 'theory of use', describing how clinicians are expected to use teleconsultation in their daily activities. By employing Giddens' Structuration Theory, we can develop a clear vision of the utilization of telehealth, and a better framework with which to assess its added value for health care delivery. We illustrate this claim by referring to our research on the Quebec Inter-Regional Telemedicine Network. In this study we compare the 'theory of use' behind the telemedicine network with the perceptions of physicians regarding their needs in terms of communications and access to expert advice. The breach between the theory and the perceptions of physicians may help to explain how the utilization of telehealth could be enhanced, and how new and sustainable routines for its integration into the health care system might be created.

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