Work Futures in the Digital Economy

Space, Power and Communication – The Dynamics of Convergent ICT in the Norwegian Health Care Sector

Researchers: Susan Halford, Aud Obstfelder, Ann Therese Lotherington, Kari Dyb

Research Partner: Norwegian Research Council

This project explores the introduction of new applications for ICT in health care delivery, following two ‘telemedicine’ projects (live broadband links for ultrasound and CTG between midwives and obstetricians and an e-mail clinic for paediatric eczema) and two new information systems in health care (an integrated electronic patient record and an electronic booking system allowing GPs to book appointments directly for hospital interventions). Our findings show how the outcome of ICT interventions are shaped by established organizational and professional practices and – in turn – how such interventions can transform such working practices. In addition, we have focussed on the increasing importance of IT expertise in the organization of health care and our findings suggest the emergence of a new ‘third force’ in the familiar managerial/professional dynamic.

For more details please contact Susan Halford, School of Social Sciences


Same Technology, Different Settings

Researchers: Catherine Pope, Susan Halford, Jane Prichard, Wendy Hall and Carl May (University of Southampton), Chris Salisbury (Bristol University) and the NHS Workforce Review Team.

Research Partner: SDO, National Institute for Health Research

This project explores the introduction of a new Clinical decision support systems (CDSS) designed to assist healthcare staff with decision-making. The aim of the project is to understand the implications of CDSS for workforce planning, training and management. We are taking a longitudinal and comparative ethnographic approach to trace how the CDSS impacts on individual work, team work and organisational management. By studying the same technology in different settings the project will unpick the mechanisms through which this technology becomes integrated and normalised into work and organizational practice and/or the limitations to this.

For more details please contact Susan Halford, Jane Prichard or Catherine Pope


Using Computer Decision Support in Urgent and Emergency Care

Researchers: Catherine Pope, Susan Halford, Jo Turnbull, Jane Prichard and Carl May.

As public sector health care providers face escalating demands for service and pressures to cut costs, innovative new solutions are being proposed to reconfigure the workforce making use of new technological applications. In emergency and urgent care, increasing use is being made of evidence based Computer Decision Support Systems that can be operated by (relatively cheap) non-clinical clerical staff to conduct sophisticated triaging processes that will enable effective rationing of resources, for instance ambulances and healthcare professionals. This project, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (Service Delivery Organisation), is exploring work, training and organizational practices that are required to bring this new system into use in three different settings. Our findings suggest that whilst the CDSS is in use, the work that it takes to make it work is considerable and varies significantly from place to place, indicating that such innovations will not operate as quick or cheap technical fixes to current pressures on our healthcare services.