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500 word summaries;

Overall summary Kaylah

Our seminar group presented an engaging discussion on the topic of electronic
communication and technology, and how these have impacted upon Australian health care
We analysed this topic using the Sociological Imagination template; delving into the
Historical, Cultural, Structural, and Critical factors involved.
We took some time to think about electronic communication and its relevance to health care
delivery in this day and age. Theres no doubt that the rise of electronic communication has
ensured easy access to and transmission of health related information (Cockerham &
Cockerham, 2010). Weve seen this become more and more prominent in Australian society
over the years; from what used to be a trip to the doctor, has now turned into a trip to the
closest computer, or a downward gaze at your phone, as Mr Google has become our one
stop shop in answering all our health related concerns. But we had to question just how
reliable Mr Google really is? And should we really be placing our health in the hands of
unknown sources?
Like the current health care system, rather than verbally discussing these questions, we
used our website to engage and interact with the rest of the class throughout the seminar,
where we all electronically communicated our ideas and beliefs through the use of opinion
We recognized that with the benefits that technology provides toward Australian health care,
come risks to the health of individuals, communities, and nations, through possible incorrect
diagnoses or misguided opinions.
Bri helped us view the Historical influences that guided the rise of technological systems
within the health care sector.
We then gained further insight from Laura into the cultural underpinning of electronic
communication and technology within Australian health care.
Beth helped us highlight those structural institutions within Australian society that appear to
be the pioneers of electronic and technologically based health care delivery.
And finally, Isabel sparked great discussion into the critical future of health-technology and
where Australian health care delivery is headed.

We finally discussed the use of Skype as a process of health care delivery being
implemented in Australia today, and reflected upon its reliability. We discussed how, like
many forms of health care delivery, there are pros and cons to each.
We concluded that as future clinicians, we need to ensure we implement a holistic approach
to health care delivery, whereby we take into account the client, the evidence base, and our
clinical expertise, to ensure we are providing the best possible practice to our client (The
Centre for Clinical Effectiveness, Southern Health, 2009).

Historical- Bri
At the start of Australian Settlement, the level of healthcare was very low and health care
delivery was only done face to face between the physician and the patient. only A few
medical staff came on the voyage, which resulted in a temporary hospital being constructed
at Sydney Cove, (Islhd.health.nsw.gov.au, 2015). Most health care would have been
delivered here.
The Industrliasation period sparked the development of communication and technology in
both Australia and Europe around the early 1800s. This brought to Australia the steam train
and steam boats, which quickened communication between people via face-to-face
interaction and established mailing services between the different states
(Environment.gov.au, 2015). This enabled medical staff to be able to send letters between
each other for advice.
As the gold rush hit Australia in the 1840s-1850s, there was an influx of people from all over
the world bringing with them new technologies. This increased Australias ability to
communicate with other nations. According to the article Australia and the Industrial
Revolution in Transport and Communications, no sooner were they invented, Australians
were using new innovations such as the electric telegraph, telephones and cable trams, in
their daily lives. With telephones and telegraphs being invented, health professionals would
have been able to do some diagnosis over the phone to patients allowing for quick
healthcare delivery.
The next big step up in technology and communication was the first computer built
during World War Two as a way to speed up ballistic calculations and to decode
enemy information. By 1950 computers were just starting to hit Australian shores.
With computers now being made and developed, huge leaps in technology for
healthcare were made. Before this step up, ultrasounds and xrays were basic and
often were blurry, but with electronic ultrasounds and xrays being made a clear picture

was able to appear on a screen and then be printed out and in 1986 the first 3D
imaging occurred. (Thomas & Banerjee, n.d.)
In the 1991 the home broadband was connected, allowing the public to have access to
the World Wide Web (Williams, 2014). From then on, the way we have communicated
as health professionals has completely changed. Instead of the use post we are now
able to Instant Message people, we can now use our phones and Ipads to talk face to
face with the use of web cameras, and we can hold conferences via skype from
Australia to the other side of the globe. We now have access to communication
wherever and whenever we want to.
For health professionals this has made it possible for the vital exchange of medical
information instantly. It has also started the dispersion of medical skills and information
around the world which has played a part in globalisation. It has made it possible for
healthcare professionals to have access to medical databases at a touch of a finger.
Also with the use of computers we have been able to make amazing inventions such
as electronic blood pressure cuffs.

Cultural- Laura
Western culture places a high value on health care; as a result biomedicine is a prominent
approach to health care delivery (Germov, 2014). As health students ourselves, we know this
is certainly true of Australia, where a large emphasis is placed on evidence based practice
(WHO, 2001). Globalisation and technology together, have been able to facilitate this culture
of best practice. One click of a button on a database we can access articles from every
country in the world on up to date research studies on health care delivery. However,
although Australia practices a predominately biomedical model of health care, we are a
proud multicultural country (Germov, 2013). Therefore, the many different cultures influence
health care delivery. Australians multicultural society has allowed for such technologies and
techniques to become normalised and accepted, and globalisation means that these
technologies can continue to evolve and update (Grant, & Cochrane, 2014). The range of
health care delivery is far wider in Australia today. For example, if we look at Chinese
medicine, its medicine is intertwined to their culture. One aspect of the culture, is feng shui,
the movement of good and bad energies. Chinese medicine is based on the belief that vital
energy and moving substances in the form of blood and body fluid is essential for health
(Lee, & Ernst, 2011). Acupuncture is involved in harnessing and channelling this energy
(Lee, & Ernst, 2011). This approach to health care delivery is now a popular option for
Australians today (Lee, & Ernst, 2011).

Globalisation has also improved electronic communication, which is influencing the standard
of health care delivery. Australias culture has become far more accepting and inclusive in
the last couple of decades. As a result of this cultural shift and electronic communication, the
health care delivery for persons with a disability has drastically improved. This is evident in
the National Relay Service. It is a free initiative that acts as a middle ground interpreter for
people that have hearing or speech impairments (NRS, 2014). Health care professionals can
use this service to communicate better with their patients, improving health care delivery
(NRS, 2014). Similarly, a skyping/phoning service called Voxeo is a service where a person
acts a translator for the health care professional and or the client (Voxeo, 2015).
Globalisation even means that this interpreter doesnt even need to be in Australia for this
service (Voxeo, 2015). Communication barriers used to pose great compromises and risks to
health care delivery, but now this barrier is conquered by electronic communication.
A potential negative of the biomedical model which is dominant in Australia, outlined by
Germov (2014), is the cost of health care is higher and is delivered in more populated areas.
Therefore people of low socio-economic status or those who live rurally have compromised
treatment due to inability to afford to access treatment (Germov, 2014). However, electronic
communication (skype) can not only reduce costs but also deliver services into someones
Technology and electronic communications have widened our knowledge base, widened
what we consider valid health care options, and continues to improve accessibility to health
care delivery in Australia.

Structural- Bethany

Structural factors are the impact of social institutions on our lives. Turner (1997) states that
social institutions organise relatively stable patterns of human activity, these include the
government and the education system. These social institutions are constantly impacting
health care delivery in Australia. Electronic communication and technology as globalising
processes have been utilised by these social institutions in order to attempt to improve
current healthcare delivery, and insure that it continues to be most appropriate for modern


The education system, particularly when considering the tertiary education system has a
huge impact on the use of electronic communication and technology as globalising
processes for improved healthcare delivery. This is due to the fact that it is within the tertiary
education system where the health care professionals of tomorrow are learning the methods
of best practice.

eJournals and Databases

-Tertiary education
facilities teach students
how to utilise these
-Internet access allows for
the most up to date
information from around
the world

-Anything can be
published online therefore
information is not always
accurate (Benigeri and
Pluye, 2003)
-Healthcare professionals
must have skills to judge
what is a reliable source

-Accessible at anytime of
the day or night

Apps for tablets,

computers and phones

-Useful for a wide range of
healthcare purposes,
treatment, assessment,
practice skills, refresh
knowledge etc (Ventola,

-Could allow patients to
self diagnose, or begin
treatment without
consulting a healthcare
professional (Benigeri and
Pluye, 2003)


The Australian government has a vital influence on healthcare and its delivery in Australia.
This is due to the fact that the provide significant funding to many different areas of
healthcare. They also regulate the laws and policies surrounding healthcare therefore having
a great impact on the progress of healthcare delivery methods.

eHealth Record
(Introduced in Australia in
July 2012 (Department of
Health, 2014b))

-Wide range of uses;
progress notes, electronic
perscriptions, messaging
between healthcare
professionals, medication
lists, hospital discharge
summaries, allergies and
immunisations (Jolly,

-Main limitation is that the
Australian eHealth record
is opt in for patients and
healthcare professionals
(Department of Health,
2014a, 2014b). This
means that information
may be not recorded or

Nurse on Call

-Records are accessible
-Makes healthcare more

will be inaccessible for

certain patients and in
certain facilities

-Available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week
(Department of Health,
-Fully staffed by registered
nurses (Department of
Health, 2014c)
-Takes pressure off face to
face medical services by
reducing number of
patients who visit
-Gives patients access to
reliable medical advice
without needing to see a

-Information given over the
phone by nurses may not
be understood by patients
the same way as it is
intended (Leclerc et al.,


Overall healthcare delivery will improve with the use of technology and electronic
communication. Although it will be critically important that at every step of the way that new
methods are thoroughly researched and regulated to ensure the impact is a positive one.

Critical- Isabelle
The advances in technology are developing at a faster rate then ever before as information
based on research from around the world is readably availably and easier to access due to
Today there are 5 billion devices connected to the internet (including computers, phones,
music devices). By 2020, this number will grow to 22 billion. (McKenzie, 2013).
Changes in future technology may help create and/or improve resources that may alter the
way in which health care services are delivered to meet the health needs of target

Important to note; Any new devices or ways of delivery mentioned may not ever become
commercially available. This may be due to
The initial claims are theoretical and following research does not confirm the initial promise.
Funding cannot be obtained for further research or commercialisation
A safe, effective and economic product cannot be developed;
Public pressure in relation to technologies that offend particular social groups

Cancer; 4th leading cause of death in Australians (abs, 2012)

They are predicting huge changes in how cancer is diagnosed and how treatment is
delivered in 15-20 years.
Will be able to determine accurately the outcomes of treatment on tumours before
treatments begins
Allow a more individualised treatment for patients
Imaging; annual whole-body health scans based on new imaging methods, resulting in
earlier treatment
Surgery technology; Robotic surgery and three beam ultrasound this technology would
greatly reduce morbidity and cost associated with invasive brain surgery, reduce length of
stay and even lead to some brain tumours being treated as day only or outpatient
Diabetes monitoring; 6th leading cause of death in Australians (abs, 2012)

A device that is worn like a wrist-watch and automatically and painlessly measures
blood glucose every 20 minutes could replace painful finger-prick blood tests that
diabetics currently use to monitor diabetes control. (McKenzie, 2013).

Stem cells

Embryonic stem cells are those that have the potential to become any tissue in the
body. It may be possible to grow tissue and organs from patients own cells,
overcoming problems of rejection and infection.
This would greatly improve quality of life and increase lifespan and reduce time spent
in hospitals and donor lists.

Genetic testing;

Portable hand-held machines that perform genetic tests are under development.
May result in eradication of disease however raises many ethical arguments


New developments in vaccines could mean that they do not need to be kept at such
low temperatures during transportation and storage;
Reduce the cost of transportation, which is around $200 million annually due to the
need for refrigerated trucks and monitored refrigerated medical storage facilities.
This will allow more vaccines to be delivered to developing countries that currently do
not have those facilities
Possible eradication of diseases
Quality of Life


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