In 2005, the clinical director of the Batho Pele clinic1 in the Gauteng province in South Africa requested the assistance of the Department of Informatics at the University of Pretoria in addressing their IS issues. This request fitted the department’s research interests in health information systems (HIS), as well the broader research focus and commitment to provide outreach services to the community. Knowing the problems of commencing projects without having planned for sustainability and scalability, the HIS research group elected to use the “networks of action” concept to partner and collaborate with the various role players, institutions, and other ART entities. This process of developing interconnecting networks of human and nonhuman entities in South Africa and beyond its borders raised a number of opportunities, challenges, and tensions in initiating this project. To provide a background to this process, the next section introduces the concept of “networks of action” and a brief description of the ART clinic. The following section develops the main focus of this chapter, which is the process of developing these networks. The last section suggests the necessity of developing networks of action as a future trend for sustainable IS.
Key Terms in this Chapter
ART: The treatment of people infected with HIV/AIDS by incorporating antiretroviral drugs, counseling, and guidance on how to live a healthier life.
Sustainability: Involves a long-term working solution.
Networks of Action: A term used in action research that involves the cultivation and alignment of groups of people, institutions, sites, and artefacts.
Health Information Systems: Sociotechnical combinations of human and nonhuman artefacts for coordination and communication work, or social activities in the health sector.
Action Research: A collaborative cyclical inquiry process that involves diagnosing a situation, taking action, and reflecting on the outcome before recommencing the process.
Developing Countries: Countries generally found in the southern hemisphere and characterized by low levels of human development.
Scaling: The spreading of working sociotechnical solutions to other sites, including people, technology, and processes.