Information and Communication Technologies are embedded as important tools of clinicians. ICT helps in the delivery of health services to their patients. ‘Delivery’ is, however, a one-way process and ICT can be used as a tool that disempowers and marginalises patients. There is an imperative, therefore, for ICT to be harnessed for the benefit of all of us … helping build health literacy; helping us to manage our behaviours and lifestyles; and helping us to become more equal partners in any health treatment. New approaches to ICT, particularly in the form of telehealth, can help to bring this about and put the patient more in control.
This presentation challenges some ‘conventional’ uses of ICT for health. It calls for a change in our understandings and attitudes. It even calls for a change in our language – promoting the notion of health service provision instead of ‘delivery’. Service provision can, after all, include conventional approaches for the frailest and most vulnerable but it can also enable people (patients) to access and use services in relation to their needs and choices. ICT tools in the form of Internet links and mobile devices (both within the arena of telehealth) enable people to do this.
In the ‘new world’ for health and health services, therefore, ICT (including telehealth) will have an important part to play. But in playing that part ICT must be designed and configured with the needs of patients (people) as well as clinicians in mind. By doing this ICT has the potential to play a crucial part in helping improve people’s lives, reduce disadvantage and empower us all … putting the patient more in control.
Dr Malcolm J Fisk is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University (Leicester, UK). He is an expert for ANEC: The European Consumer Voice on Standardisation; on a Quality Standards Advisory Committee for the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); and an Expert Advisor to the Welsh Government on Housing an Ageing Population. For over four years he was Welsh Government appointed Chair of the National Partnership Forum for Older People.
His background includes extensive work that focuses on the way in which people access and use telehealth and related services. He is Director of the Telehealth Quality Group (www.telehealth.global) – a European Economic Interest Group (EEIG) that has taken forward European Commission work (within the TeleSCoPE project) through the development and promotion of the International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services.
Malcolm is widely published in the telehealth, telecare, social care and housing fields and is a frequent speaker at international events. Much of his recent work has been around standards in the context of ‘responsible research and industry’; and one of his current foci is examining the use of technologies to help, for different care settings, in the prevention of elder abuse.