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Modern Information Technology in Medical Infrastructure

Ontology, Epistemology and Methodology for E-Health Sector

Introduction to E-Health Sector

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete well being including that of social, mental, physical well being and not only an absence of diseases. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly situated in New York, USA conducted a World Summit on the Information Society which was aimed to encourage the governments to develop sustainable strategies which can empower them and they can utilize the benefits in various fields.

The government of Kuwait has also organized a summit on E -Health in 2012 which was also aimed at recognizing of modern information technology and how it can be utilized in improvements in the health sector. In this project, study will be done on how far the medical infrastructure in Kuwait is at present ready in order to introduce the innovative services which are based on modern information technology, that is, the E –Health. A philosophical perspective will be framed in this report by making use of paradigms of inquiry and the theories of research.

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TASK 1

Understand distinctions between subjective and objective perspectives of reality, knowledge truth and theory.

The task will focus on the statistics of Kuwait which will reveal about the true position of health in the country. There is a lot of difference between the truth or reality and the theory. This means that it is true that implementation of modern technologies in through e health in this sector is good and positive for the people and the country but on the other side, it has to be kept in mind that how far are the people ready to make use of the services.

The demographic profile of Kuwait consist of the information that the population of Kuwait in mid of 2011 was 3636, 009. Of this figure, 1,164,449, that is, 32.01% were of were Kuwaitis and 2,467,560, that is, 67.9% were Non-Kuwaitis. It also includes the Farwaniya governorate with the most populous region and Mubarak Al-Kabeer with that of the least number. According to the statistics of the country, crude rates like birth and death rates including the general fertility rates are high amongst the Kuwaitis in the year 2011. The total number of death rates that were recorded in 2011 was 5339. 62 % of them were that of males and 38% belong to the females. Death rates are found to be higher mainly because of accidents and self harm done intentionally. Among the cancer deaths, the highest mortality is because of occurrence of malignant neoplasm which prevails in the digestive organs. Among infants the major cause of death is due to disorders occurring as a result of short gestation period and low weight at the time of birth.

The use of new technology in the health services is quite important in order to improve upon the heath conditions of the people of Kuwait. For this, the concept of e-Government needs to be implemented. E-Government can be defined as the application and use of information and communication technology in order to transform the efficiency and accountability of transactional and informational exchanges between government and its agencies and also within it. The success of this concept can help the government to implement in the sector of health. This can be done by understanding and making use of modern and advanced technologies I order to improve the health and to ensure the well being of the citizens (About The Exhibition, 2012).

A e- Health summit was held in Kuwait in the year 2012 named as e health GCC (Gulf Council Cooperation) conference. The main aim of this conference was to accomplish future vision for improving upon the health care for all people. It envisioned on improving upon the quality of delivery in heath and provides universal access in order to fulfill all essential needs regarding the health of individuals. In addition to this, it also plans to provide safe and cost effective drugs so as to rationalize the consumption for all (KUWAIT e-HEALTH Conference & Exhibition, 2011).

It is the truth that in order to improve the efficiency and reducing the total cost for people use of implementation of new technology can prove to be as one of the most significant steps. But, on the other side of the coin, it is also the reality that implementation and use of such technologies is not an easy task for the government and will have to face a lot of problems. These can be related to the education re general awareness of the medical staff who is employed in the hospitals. Another factor could be the bureaucracy and politics which comes in way of implementation of advanced services. Therefore, it can be implied that there is a huge gap between theory and the reality (MGS to participate at 'E-Health GCC Conference', 2012).

TASK 2

Consider positivism, post-positivism, critical theory and constructivism and participatory paradigms of inquiry and relate at least one of these to your proposed area of study.

In this task, data will be evaluated in the context of use of innovative health services in Kuwait. The research philosophies or theories applied here are used to assess and examine that how ready Kuwait is to make use of advanced technology in the health sector. Positivism implies that social and physical reality is independent of all those who observe the facts related to a particular subject. Observation of this be sometimes biased but if not then it could lead to a base for scientific knowledge (Nolan and Putten, 2007). This approach can be used in positivist epistemology that will be applied further in the report. Positivism approach can be applied in this context of study as secondary data will be evaluated and assessed (Lincoln and Guba, 2000). Postpostivism is that kind of approach which develops into a social reality which is being constructed by the individuals who take part into the study done on a particular subject of interest (Morgan, 2007). It is constructed differently by separate individuals who are involved into study.

Critical theory is considered as an approach which lay stress on reflective assessment of culture and society by application of knowledge. This theory laid emphasis on critical analysis of a concern subject and developing a theory to understand the subject (Critical Theory, 2005). In this report, the critical theory can be applied so that findings about the health services in Kuwait can be developed both through the historical as well as social analysis. The theory can be developed with help of another approach, that is, constructivism (Critical Theory Paradigms, 2008). This approach explains that how knowledge can be constructed when new researched information comes into contact of the existing knowledge and how they can be interpreted then. This can also be used in the current topic of research where results can be found out on the reality on use of advanced technology in heath care sector in Kuwait (What is constructivism?, 2004).

In addition to this, another research approach is interpretivism according to which all knowledge is developed as a result of interpretation of the situation and is unique for each of the individuals (Smith and Ragan, 1999). This can also be used into this report for interpreting the present medical situations in Kuwait and the historical facts (Edvardsson, 2011). This will also be used to know the reasons behind not implementing the clinical e- health medical services in Kuwait.

The above research philosophies can be applied to the subject related to the study but the most important which are to be used here are the critical and grounded theory and also the ethnography. Interpretivism will also be used.

TASK 3

Develop a framework which outlines ontology, epistemology, methodology and methods and provide a clear indication of how this may develop and your proposed research project.

The philosophical framework of any research includes within it the paradigms of inquiry which focuses on how situations in reality can be interpreted.

Ontology

Ontology is that paradigm of inquiry which helps to answer to the questions of reality. In the present report, historical as well as relative realism will be employed in order to understand the reality situation. The meaning of ontology is that it is used for explaining the form and the nature of reality. It also relates to the where the reality as well as the history comes from. This method of ontology deals with how reality is viewed by individuals (Guntern, 2007). This implies that whether this reality is a part of the mind or a part of only the external world. In the present case, this concept is used to study the historical factors, that is, understanding the history of e- health services in Kuwait. By doing a relative realism assessments can then be done on the current e- health care medical services which are being used in Kuwait. It means that ontology will help to understand the reality behind the e- health services and how it is taken by the medical staff. It can also be assessed on how they understand the e- health medical sector of the country (Howe, 2009).

Epistemology

This paradigm of enquiry states about the relationship between that which is researched and researcher. The researcher can make use of a subjective stance in terms of the research topic and how the topic can further influence the research (Epistemology, introduction, 2013). The paradigm will revolve around the factors such as the main aim and research question and how the data collected can help in reaching at the results. This paradigm is based on the fact that world is a reflection of mind and information on any subject is based on the experiences. Findings through Epistemology are determined through use of critical analysis and also with help of constructivism (Patton, 2002).

Methodology

The research methodology to be used here are the ethnography and grounded theory. This theory mainly concentrates on undertaking of research with people instead of on people or about them. Grounded theory can be used in this study as this involves an interaction in order to generate results. This theory is most widely used in the medical field in order to conduct qualitative research. Because use of qualitative data will be taken here so it can be used in the present report. The main purpose is through symbolic interaction in order to do comparative analysis to generate a substantive analysis (Siegel, 2006). In this report, this theory can be applied to find the perception of the medical staff in hospitals of Kuwait and adoption of new techniques in this field. The clinical e- health services is a new concept in Kuwait and especially to the medical staff which mainly includes the doctors and nurses. In this country, the nurses can be considered to be a potential asset as well a driving force in order to implement new e- health services. For this, data collection and analysis will be done with respect to the existing theory on e- health and practice. The methodology will be based on qualitative and quantitative data.

Another methodology to be used is the ethnography. This theory is used for understanding of social or cultural settings in Kuwait in relation to the e- health. The reason for using this approach will be to understand intercept the social world, that is, how the people and especially the medical staff perceive the implementation and use of new and advanced technology through e health. This methodology mainly focuses on participatory observation over a long time period within a specified location (Sutkowski, 2010). In this report, the defined location is Kuwait where the perception of medical staff will be observed and studied. The use of employing this paradigm is to interpret the social world, that is, e- health care in Kuwait and the way the members of this health care perceive the medical services.

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Methods

In order to make proper use of paradigms of inquiry method need to be implemented so that information can be collected. For this, method of interview can be implemented where interview will be taken of focus group from several medical organizations. The sample that will be taken for study is small. With this method, it will be possible to identify the barriers which lie in adapting the services in terms of e- health in relation to various factors like that of cost, lack of incentives and standards. With this, it will become possible to explore factors that help in adoption or act as barrier in adopting e- health services in Kuwait.

TASK 4

Distinguish between paradigms of inquiry and provide arguments that support the utilisation of a distinct philosophical position.

The main paradigms of enquiry which are to be included in any kind of research are ontology and epistemology. Both of these terms are used in philosophy. These terms are often used by doctors also to describe the conditions of a disease, its trends and its characteristics. These things are generally described by both epistemology and ontology. Both these are mainly used in philosophy. They are used for explaining the existence of an entity or any other thing (Dube and Pare, 2003).

Ontology refers to the study of nature, existence or being of a certain entity. In other words, it is used to describe the presence and existence of a certain topic such as that of a specific condition of disease. It mainly answers to the questions which begin with ‘what’. Here, in this report, it is the existence of e- health services in Kuwait. Ontology is used for defining the fundamental categories of existence of reality or an entity (Bohman, 2003). When it is related to a focus of study then it is domain ontology. Each research has its own ontology. Formal ontology explains about a subject in general while domain ontology gives explanation and understanding on something specific but about different areas of reality (Bohman, 2004). In this report, formal or general ontology is applied to find answer to the questions on the implementation of e- health care facilities in Kuwait.

Ontology can be used as a paradigm of inquiry in this report as this can be used to assess the current situation with respect to prevalence of e- health care facilities in Kuwait. It is also used to know the reality of these services and also to understand their importance to all.

On the other side, epistemology refers to the body of philosophy which involves within it the presence of any kind of knowledge related to a particular subject. It is that part of philosophy or sociology which is mainly concern with the scope and nature of knowledge. It is also known as the ‘theory of knowledge’. It is mainly used to examine what is meant by knowledge with respect to any subject. In addition to this, with the help of this paradigm, if and how knowledge can be acquired can be known and evaluated (Watkins and Mohr, 2001). This term focuses on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how this can be related to other connected terms like that of belief and truth. This term indicates that something is known about a subject because of the information or knowledge about what we have about it. It mainly answers to the questions which begin with ‘how’. This paradigm is used to answer how we can know about a specific subject and reason for a particular reality. Each of the research field consists of its epistemology (Philosophy: What is the difference between "ontology" and "epistemology"?, 2011).

This paradigm of inquiry can also be used in the present report as it can be used to analyze a particular situation. In the present report, it provided information on how the implementation of e- health services is perceived by the people and especially the medical staff. The use of both paradigms of inquiry can be made in order to form a distinct philosophical position for the particular topic which can help to reach on the results and find how much of e- health services can be implemented in Kuwait and how it can be perceived by the medical staff (Ponterotto, Joseph and Grieger, 2007).

CONCLUSION

A distinct philosophical structure can be developed if all the paradigms of inquiry can be properly utilized in the correct manner. The present report on e- health services in Kuwait is a new as well a broad topic of study (Dills and Romiszowski, 1997). The study will help to know the cultural differences due to which it is somewhat difficult for the government of Kuwait to implement and make use of advanced technology in medical health care.

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REFERENCES

  • About The Exhibition. 2012. Available through: < http://www.q8ehealth.com/2013/index.php?action=exhibition > [Accessed on 23rd April 2013].
  • Critical Theory Paradigms. 2008. Available through: < http://www.qualres.org/HomeCrit-3518.html > [Accessed on 23rd April 2013].
  • Critical Theory. 2005. [online]. Available through: < http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/ > [Accessed on 23rd April 2013].
  • Epistemology, introduction. 2013. Available through: < http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/EPISTEMI.html > [Accessed on 23rd April 2013].
  • KUWAIT e-HEALTH Conference & Exhibition. 2011. Available through: < http://groups.yahoo.com/group/events_updates/message/3394 > [Accessed on 23rd April 2013].
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