Datakraft och läkekonst : Datateknikens införande i svensk sjukvård 1962–1968
Sammanfattning: This thesis examines the process through which computers became a part of the Swedish healthcare system. The empirical basis of the study consists of discussions emanating from projects concerned with the opportunities offered by the new technology between 1962 and 1968, mainly in conjunction to the Swedish council of hospital rationalization (SJURA). The study argues that computers should be understood as a “fluid technology”, one that is flexible and adaptable to its surroundings, while still retaining its mechanical core as a mathematical tool. The thesis shows that the technology was given a meaning which suited the demands of the new context: computers were able to answer the acute problems of health care, which were perceived as an abundance of information and a shortage of labour. Advocates of computers in healthcare equaled healthcare problems with information problems; the latter could only be solved with the help of computers. Thus, the technology was created within the definition of the problem. Computers were also thought of as a novel aid allowing physicians to create useful knowledge, and ideas about medical knowledge were articulated as a response to the introduction of the new technology. Computers simplified quantitative measures and it was anticipated they would provide means with which to calculate the value of health care. Thus, the value of care was redefined with numbers, turning the existential value of the patient into a more distant notion. The art of medicine had to be explained so that the computer would be able to process it – it was necessary to transform patient histories into binary language. This thesis illustrates how the support of introducing computers also meant that a certain type of medical knowledge was favoured; it was the capabilities of the computer which set the standard. By historicizing the role of computers within healthcare, the thesis shows how technologies are adaptable to the demands of their surroundings, and how they contrariwise also affect their surroundings.
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