PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the concept and role of technology within the context of healthcare services management.
PROBLEM INVESTIGATED: The South African government is in the process of implementing a multi-billion rand National Healthcare Insurance (NHI) initiative that will entail an extensive review and revitalisation of healthcare services and its supporting infrastructure. Although technology plays a very fundamental and critical role in healthcare services management it would appear that the concept is not all that clearly articulated, both within the literature and in practice, within the field concerned.
METHODOLOGY: A multidisciplinary literature study and analysis was undertaken to gain an understanding of the concept technology and its application within a healthcare services management context. A review of contemporary IEEE, technology and healthcare technology management literature formed a key strategy in conducting the research study.
FINDINGS: An important conclusion drawn from the study is that diverse interpretations exist as to the concept “technology” and its utilization as a support system within a healthcare services management context. Seen in the context of the development and roll-out of the NHI initiative this could be problematic. The people or human component of the technology concept in particular would appear to act as a constraint in the utilization of technology to support healthcare services delivery.
VALUE OF THE RESEARCH: Increasingly healthcare professionals are confronted with limited resources and an increasing demand for efficient, cost effective, sustainable and patient centred services. The use of appropriate healthcare technology support systems could serve as a means for addressing some of these issues. The findings associated with this research study could serve as a source of information and reference for both researchers and practitioners involved in the strategic alignment of healthcare services and technology, particularly if seen within the context of the roll-out of the NHI initiative
CONCLUSION: A primary conclusion drawn from the study is that the concept of technology and its use within the healthcare services sector is rather pervasive, complex in nature and not all that effectively utilised to support service delivery in practice. The human or people aspect of healthcare technology management would seem to feature as being the most difficult to deal with in implementing an e-health strategy.