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Healthc Inform Res > Volume 15(3); 2009 > Article
Journal of Korean Society of Medical Informatics 2009;15(3):313-320.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4258/jksmi.2009.15.3.313    Published online September 30, 2009.
A Paradigm Shift in the Healthcare Delivery System with the Emergence of the 'Ambient Care' Environment
Minah Kang Kim1, Jeongeun Kim2,3
1College of Social Sciences, Ewha Womans University, Korea.
2College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Korea.
3Research Institute of Nursing Science, Seoul National University, Korea.
Correspondence:  Jeongeun Kim,
Received: 9 June 2009

Objective: Patients are becoming more active in communicating with doctors, forming e-communities, and participating in decision-making process of their treatment plans. However, only a few studies have examined how digitalized healthcare affects patients' and doctors' attitudes towards medical care services and deliverance structure, and the problems that might stem from these changes. In this study, we 1) explored the current changes in patients' healthcare utilization patterns and delivery structures, 2) examined the emerging behaviours and awareness of the participants, and 3) proposed how to prepare for such changes.

Methods: Face-to-face interviews and a group discussion with both Korean and US experts on consumer health informatics were conducted. Interview guidelines were developed based on reviews of recent studies on consumer health informatics.

Results: While the American scholars had larger expectations about the scope of the changes in the health care system induced by the digitalization of healthcare, compared to the Korean scholars, the interviewees and group discussion participants from both countries all agreed on the changes in medical environment and the increasing importance of medical information. The changes induced by the digitalization of healthcare were categorized as follows: (1) in the structure and location of healthcare service delivery, (2) in the doctor-patient communication methods, and (3) in the role of patients and increasing emphasis in empowerment.

Conclusion: We expect that digitalized healthcare will continue to affect the doctor-patient relationship and change the deliverance structure. In order to better prepare for the fundamental paradigm shift in the healthcare system and increase the benefits to society of these changes, continuous and concerted policy efforts to protect the privacy and security of private information, alleviate the digital divide, and secure the quality of digitalized clinical knowledge will be required.

Key Words: E-health, Consumer Health Informatics, Patient Empowerment
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