Medical Prescriptions: The Key to Understanding Information Infrastructures in Healthcare

For the first time, researchers of the disciplines Information Systems (IS), pharmacy history, social history, and the German Pharmacy Museum come together in this interdisciplinary project with the aim to understand current practices in the German healthcare sector by going back to its roots. For this, the researchers use medical prescriptions from the German-speaking area. The prescriptions cover the time period from the medieval era up to the present which allows the researchers to identify innovations and social changes throughout this time period. The focus of the analysis is on variations of shape, content, and language over time. Upon examination of the research results, the researchers will be able to reconstruct the evolution of healthcare practices in the German-speaking area to aid the understanding of contemporary practices between patient, pharmacist and physicians as well as between physician and health insurance. The project is subdivided into three parts. Firstly, the pharmacy historian translates medieval prescriptions of the German Pharmacy Museum into the modern language of the present-day pharmacists and physicians. Through this, the social historian and the IS researcher can identify the emergence of new features during the evolution of medical prescriptions. The identification of such features helps to explain the emergence of new actors in healthcare practices and also helps to understand the evolution of critical information infrastructures in healthcare. A well-known example is the rise of health insurance providers which has changed the patient-pharmacist relationship as well as modified the information infrastructure of physicians and pharmacists. We believe that our analysis will shed a new light on current problems in the healthcare sector and possibly help to identify points of leverage for developing critical healthcare infrastructures that have so far been neglected.

Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Duration: 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022