Friday, 19 August 2016

Rural and remote communities, technology and mental health recovery

an article by Oliver K. Burmeister (Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia) and Edwina Marks (Barkly Regional Council, Tennant Creek, Australia) published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Volume 14 Issue 2 (2016)


This study aims to explore how health informatics can underpin the successful delivery of recovery-orientated healthcare, in rural and remote regions, to achieve better mental health outcomes. Recovery is an extremely social process that involves being with others and reconnecting with the world.

An interpretivist study involving 27 clinicians and 13 clients sought to determine how future expenditure on ehealth could improve mental health treatment and service provision in the western Murray Darling Basin of New South Wales, Australia.

Through the use of targeted ehealth strategies, it is possible to increase both the accessibility of information and the quality of service provision. In small communities, the challenges of distance, access to healthcare and the ease of isolating oneself are best overcome through a combination of technology and communal social responsibility. Technology supplements but cannot completely replace face-to-face interaction in the mental health recovery process.

The recovery model provides a conceptual framework for health informatics in rural and remote regions that is socially responsible. Service providers can affect better recovery for clients through infrastructure that enables timely and responsive remote access whilst driving between appointments. This could include interactive referral services, telehealth access to specialist clinicians, GPS for locating clients in remote areas and mobile coverage for counselling sessions in “real time”. Thus, the technology not only provides better connections but also adds to the responsiveness (and success) of any treatment available.

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