SMS usage for Doctor-to-the-Barrio program in the Philippines : an assessment of the user’s perspectives
AuthorØsthaug, Anita Amyla Abueg
Mobile technology can profoundly enhance healthcare services even in some areas where medical services are least heard of, and where there are inequitable distributions of healthcare workers. The use of SMS application in mobile phones is one technology that could solve these problems especially in underdeveloped and developing countries the Philippines. It may eliminate the “gap” between individuals and institutions that can lead to easy and effective sharing of medical information and knowledge. Through the familiarity and popularity of SMS usage in the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Manila- National Telehealth Center has launched a telemedicine service program in 2007 and they involved the Department of Health “Doctor-to-the- Barrio” (DTTB) or Doctor to the rural area program. One of these telemedicine services is the Short Messaging Service (SMS) Telereferrals, which is the main topic of my study. Thru this service, the DTTB refers problematic cases to clinical expert in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine- Philippine General Hospital with the use of SMS application. The main aim of my study is to assess the DttB`s perspectives in utilizing SMS, as well as those of the other involved users (telehealth physicians, telehealth nurses and domain experts or DEs); their satisfaction and the challenges they encounter in using SMS Telereferrals in their everyday works. In this study, the qualitative research method was applied in the research design and interpretive research approach was employed so as to understand the social context of this phenomenon of interest. Multiple data collection tools were put to use to look into and obtain likely explanations to the research questions considered. The theories of Information Infrastructures and Actor Network guided the study, too. The findings of this study primarily revealed that most of the DttBs were satisfied with the SMS Telereferrals and found it useful in their clinical work, specifically if this was their last resort to help them in decision-making for their patients’ medical management. At the end of the study, however, despite the fact that SMS Telereferrals had proven its potential, still its limitations were found to be greater than the benefits. Based on the findings and conclusions, it was highly recommended that it should be used only in simple referrals with other healthcare providers (rural nurse, rural midwives), and not for the doctor-to-doctor exchange of relevant information and knowledge.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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