Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Management Science

The Grouping and Prioritizing of Driving Forces for ICT Adoption by Medical Practitioners: Do These Differ between Rural and Urban GPs in Australia?

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Management Science

The Grouping and Prioritizing of Driving Forces for ICT Adoption by Medical Practitioners: Do These Differ between Rural and Urban GPs in Australia?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Recent years have seen an extraordinary increase in the adoption and use of information and communications technology (ICT), both in large and, more particularly, small business. Galloway, Mochrie and Deakins (2004) suggest that the increased use of ICT in small business has resulted in the realization that context (rural vs. urban) has a direct bearing on measures of ICT adoption. These measures include benefits, disadvantages and, indeed, the reasons behind decisions being made (termed driving forces) to adopt/not adopt ICT. Again, this is particularly the case for small business. While it has long been known that rural-based SMEs are slower to adopt and use ICT (Leatherman, 2000; Smallbone, North, Baldock and Ekanem, 2002), a number of studies (Huggins and Izushi, 2002) point to differences in infrastructure between rural and urban-based small businesses. More recently, Galliano and Roux (2008) and Black (2005a) have shown that differences in competitiveness and access to resources have resulted in differences of 'intensity' with which technology is used.

One particular sector of the small business community that has attracted rural-urban comparisons is the general practice sector. At a non-technical level, several studies (Woloschuk and Tarrant, 2004; Ciechanowski, Russo, Katon and Walker, 2004; Dunt, Elsworth, Southern, Harris, Potiriadis and Young, 2006; Farmer et al., 2005; Tolhurst and Stewart, 2005) have concentrated on the reasons why a general practitioner might choose to work in a rural or urban setting. Others (Tolhurst, Madjar, Schultz and Schmidt, 2004; Veitch and Crossland, 2005; Pascoe, Foley and Hutchison, 2005) have examined the type of work required to be undertaken by medical professionals, while some (Allan and Schaefer, 2005; Wilkinson et al., 2003; Sargeant, 2005) have concentrated on the ongoing educational requirements for both urban and rural GPs. Recently, a number of researchers have noted differences both in the treatment methods applied as well as the day-to-day activities within the practices. Simunovic, Katie, Todorovic, Vinter-Repalust (2007) found less prescriptions being written in rural practices. Hider, Lay-Yee and Davis (2007), in a study of New Zealand GPs, made a similar finding, noting also that rural GPs ordered less laboratory tools and had fewer follow-ups with their patients. In a study of Australian GPs, Harris et al. (2007) found rural GPs were more satisfied, worked more closely with colleagues and charged lower fees than their urban counterparts.

The advent of affordable Internet-based information and communications technology (ICT) has led the medical and healthcare sectors to explore the use of such technologies to improve patient care and reduce business inefficiencies within general practice. The literature provides numerous studies both detailing the design of clinical ICT systems (Pelletier-Fleury et al., 1999; Baldwin et al., 2002; Hsu et al, 2005) as well as the uses of such systems within the practice or healthcare facility (Ammenwerth, Mansmann, Iller and Eichstadter, 2003; Waring and Wainwright, 2002; Shohet and Lavy, 2004; Catalan, 2004). The increasing use of ICT in general practice has also led to a number of studies comparing GPs in rural and urban practice (Kuruvilla, Dzenowagis, Pleasant and Dwividi, 2004). A study of South Australian GPs (Clark et al., 2007) has found less use of ICT by rural GPs. Similar findings were presented by Ganapathy (2005), examining the use of ICT in Indian practices.

The purpose of this study is to examine why GPs adopt ICT in Australia (termed the drivers of adoption). In particular, the study examines whether there are natural groupings and/or priorities of drivers and whether these differ between urban and rural GPs. As medical practices in Australia can be considered one sector of the general small business community, the paper begins by examining the use of ICT in rural and urban areas. …

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