Towards a wireless patient: chronic illness, scarce care and technological innovation in the United Kingdom

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Oct;61(7):1485-94. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.03.008.


'Modernization' is a key health policy objective in the UK. It extends across a range of public service delivery and organizational contexts, and also means there are radical changes in perspective on professional behaviour and practice. New information and communications technologies have been seen as one of the key mechanisms by which these changes can be engendered. In particular, massive investment in information technologies promises the rapid distribution and deployment of patient-centred information across internal organizational boundaries. While the National Health Service (NHS) sits on the edge of a pound sterling 6 billion investment in electronic patient records, other technologies find their status as innovative vehicles for professional behaviour change and service delivery in question. In this paper, we consider the ways that telemedicine and telehealthcare systems have been constructed first as a field of technological innovation, and more recently, as management solutions to problems around the distribution of health care. We use NHS responses to chronic illness as a medium for understanding these shifts. In particular, we draw attention to the shifting definitions of 'innovation' and to the ways that these shifts define a move away from notions of technological advance towards management control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Telemedicine*
  • United Kingdom