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Information Technology Adoption In Health Care: When Organisations And Technology Collide

Ian England, Don Stewart, Sue Walker

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The implementation of advanced information systems is enabling great social and organisational changes. However,health care has been one of the slowest sectors to adopt and implement information technology (IT). This paperinvestigates why this is so, reviewing innovation diffusion theory and its application to both health organisations andinformation technology. Innovation diffusion theory identifies variables that influence the 'innovativeness' oforganisations and the rate at which a technology diffuses. When analysed, these variables show why ITimplementation has progressed at a slower rate in health compared with other industry sectors. The complexity ofhealth organisations and their fragmented internal structure constrain their ability to adopt organisation wide IT.This is further impacted upon by the relative immaturity of strategic health IT which is complicated and unable toshow quantifiable benefits. Both organisational and technological factors lead to the slow adoption of strategic IT. Onthe other hand, localised IT solutions and those providing measurable cost reductions have diffused well.