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Telehealth and information society: a critical study of emerging concepts in policy and practice

Klecun, Elzbieta (2002) Telehealth and information society: a critical study of emerging concepts in policy and practice. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores a number of interrelated factors that influence the development of telehealth. Telehealth refers to health-related services that can be provided in electronic form over various telecommunications networks, including applications beyond clinical settings and reaching out to communities and homes. As such this study encompass different disciplines and draws not only on the medical tradition but also on information systems, social theory and ideas of information society. The study is based on the fundamental claim that technology does not follow a pre-determinate path but is shaped by people, who in turn are constrained by historical conditions and current structures. The research takes into consideration a number of such defining structures, including the organisation of healthcare in Britain, the health policy process, strategies for the employment of information and communications technologies (ICTs), conflicting ethical traditions and their manifestations in evaluation processes, and visions of an information society. The theoretical position and research approach is informed by critical theory. Thus the work focuses on the different, often conflicting, interests of varied stakeholders. It also unveils factors constraining social aims to which telehealth could aspire, e.g. reducing social exclusion and supporting empowerment of patients and citizens. Insights into these concepts and their practical manifestations are explored through a set of linked case studies, which investigate a variety of telehealth projects and initiatives in the London Borough of Lewisham. The thesis' contribution is twofold - practical and theoretical. The practical contribution is aimed at those who work in and study telehealth, offering a new approach and focus that is not substantially found in other telehealth studies. In this the thesis makes a contribution to the ongoing debates about telehealth's potential implications for the healthcare process. The theoretical contribution is found in the thesis' re-affirmation of the applicability of critical theory to the development of ICT-based social and organisational innovations, re-conceptualised in the light of post-modern and information society theories.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2002 Elzbieta Klecun-Dabrowska
Library of Congress subject classification: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
Supervisor: Cornford, Tony

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