Organizational Factors: Their Role in Health Informatics Implementation

Organizational Factors: Their Role in Health Informatics Implementation

Michelle Brear (University of New South Wales, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-988-5.ch081
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The influence of organizational factors on the success of informatics interventions in healthcare has been clearly demonstrated. This health specific research, informed by a larger body of evidence emerging from interdisciplinary organizational, psychological and sociological research, has confirmed the view that organizational factors can be the decisive factor in the success of an intervention (Lorenzi et al, 1997). However it remains rare for organizational factors to be explicitly addressed in the implementation process. As such their contribution to the success or failure of informatics applications is not properly understood. This has implications for future interventions. Applications which were not utilized or did not perform adequately in a particular setting may be dismissed, while other, less appropriate systems may be adopted because organizational factors influenced their success. Explicit study of the role of organizational factors on the implementation of health informatics interventions is necessary to develop an understanding of their influence in the healthcare context. Healthcare organizations tend to be highly task oriented, labor intensive and dependent on interdisciplinary teamwork, so the influence of organizational factors within them may differ considerably from the business settings in which they have traditionally been studied (Chau, 2001). Health organisations are also increasingly underresourced due to the global downturn in government social spending, health sector privatization and aging populations. It is these characteristics which necessitate rapid uptake of informatics applications, capable of automating aspects of healthcare provision and reducing labor intensity (Coiera, 2004). From a technical perspective, rapid and fundamental transformation of the healthcare sector through informatics is achievable. However, without a clear understanding of, and ability to manage organizational factors it is unlikely that informatics applications will realize their potential in the health sector. This short review provides an overview of the key organizational factors influencing the success of informatics interventions. It begins by positioning informatics interventions in the broader context of organizational change, before discussing the current understanding of selected factors.

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