The health platform (Helseplattformen) and social work – A case study on the interaction between digital tools and professional practice in social work
This project is situated in the field of knowledge and practice development in social work, focusing on the topic of social work and digitization. It is an undoubted fact that digitalization processes have influenced, and continue to influence, social work both as a discipline and a profession. One group that is facing significant digital transformation is employees in the healthcare service. The municipalities and the Regional Health Authorities in Central Norway are now in the process of implementing a shared health record, called “Helseplattformen”, reflecting the vision from the national eHealth white paper “One Citizen – One Record”. The technology in the Health Platform is provided by the American company Epic Systems, who is also a supplier for similar IT systems in Denmark and Finland, amongst others. The system will involve new professional opportunities and challenges for the practice of social work in the health field.
Objectives and research questions
The objective of this study is to investigate the interaction between the technology in “Helseplattformen” and social work, and further how this affects the professional practice of social workers. The study is based on an understanding rooted in actor network theory, where a basic principle is that technology and the social (humans and non-humans) are in a relationship of mutual influence, and therefore these can not be understood independently of each other. The aim is thus to study the complex sociotechnical interaction that will take place within this context, and how this relationship is affecting the professional practice for social workers in the health field. To analyze the professional practice of social work Lipsky’s theory of street-level bureaucracy will be used. The sub-studies in the project, which will also be conveyed through three research articles, will focus on discourses, digital communication and change over time.
Interviews with employed social workers will be conducted, as well as fieldwork within different agencies in the health services in the middle of Norway. The data collection will be conducted in two rounds, to shed light on how the interaction is changing over time.