The possibilities of technology in shaping healthcare professionals: (re/de-)professionalisation of pharmacists in England

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Jul;75(2):429-37. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.033. Epub 2012 Apr 23.


The paper discusses the possibilities technology provides for (re-)shaping healthcare professionals. Drawing upon critical studies of technology and the sociology of professionals, we present findings from a longitudinal study into the introduction of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in Community Pharmacies in England conducted between June 2009 and July 2011. Our case illustrates the conditions that allow technology to shape healthcare professionals and the potential consequences of such shaping. The data collected, which consisted of qualitative interviews and document analysis, and their analysis rests on predictions of future directions and developments of the pharmacy profession through EPS. Specifically, we show that technology has the potential to shape fundamental aspects of pharmacy work such as its nature and values, professional roles, the degree of power professionals can exercise, their jurisdictions and professional boundaries. Drawing upon these changes and on their implications, we argue that the introduction of technology in a healthcare setting does not determine consequences but opens up a field in which processes of de-professionalisation and re-professionalisation occur simultaneously. Their implications for healthcare professionals in the future, remains an open, yet worth exploring, question for the present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology*
  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • England
  • Health Personnel / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pharmacists / organization & administration*
  • State Medicine / organization & administration