Changing Healthcare Institutions with Large Information Technology Projects

Changing Healthcare Institutions with Large Information Technology Projects

Matthew W. Guah (Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-988-5.ch082
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This article reviews the development of institutional theory in direct relations to historical changes within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) with an eye to contributing to the theoretical specification of healthcare information processes. This is done partly by extending certain paradigms (see Meyer & Rowan, 1991; Powell & DiMaggio, 1991; Tolbert & Zucker, 1994) through a proposed model of causes and consequences of variations in levels of institutionalisation in the healthcare industry. It reports findings from a 5-year study on the NHS implementation of the largest civil ISs worldwide at an estimated cost of $10 billion over a 10-year period. The theoretical basis for analysis is developed, using concepts drawn from neo-institutionalism, realisation of business value, and organisational logic, as well as mixed empirical results about the lack of IT investments value in the NHS. The findings suggest that large scale, IT change imposed upon a highly institutionalised healthcare industry is fraught with difficulty mainly because culturally embedded norms, values, and behavioural patterns serve to impede centrally imposed initiatives to automate clinical working practices. It concludes with a discussion about the nature of evaluation procedures in relation to the process of institutionalising IS in healthcare.

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