Innovation diffusion in state owned health: a study of IT adoption

England, Ian William (2005) Innovation diffusion in state owned health: a study of IT adoption. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The health industry has acquired a reputation as lagging in the use of information technology (IT). Therefore, this study has been undertaken to assess state health's use of IT and then to assess the causal factors of the differing usage rate, if any. The state health industry was compared to the banking industry as a benchmark, on the basis that the banking industry is widely perceived as a leading IT user.

A literature review summarised and critiqued current literature and informed the subsequent research. The research comprised two related studies. The first study was a qualitative study of the beliefs of senior state health executives. The second study was based upon a survey of state health and banking managers.

The research confirmed that in these two 'knowledge' industries, state health is slower to adopt IT with an apparent lower maturity level. This finding was observed across a range of best-practice management, procedural and cultural topics as well as the level of resources applied to IT.

Innovation-diffusion-theory helped understand why IT implementation has progressed at a slower rate in state health than other industry sectors. The complexity of state health organisations and their fragmented internal structure constrain their ability to adopt traditional, hierarchical, organisation-wide IT. This is further impacted upon by the relative immaturity of clinical health IT, which is complicated, incomplete and unable to show quantifiable benefits. In addition, elements of the findings suggest that health IT departments are poorly aligned to the needs of clinicians and managers. Both organisational and technological factors lead to the slow adoption of health IT, although measures suggest that the key factors relate to the unique organisational nature of state health.

The recommendations for health and IT policy arising from this research are:

  • The effectiveness of state health IT departments needs comparing to those in other sectors and improvement interventions implemented;

  • The strongest way for state health IT to proceed is to focus on management and social issues in preference to the ever-seductive technology. Research and development funds should be allocated, as a priority, to benefits-analysis methods, improved understanding of the true nature of health organisations (formal and informal) and a rich understanding of clinical behaviours and work.

Deeper knowledge in all of these areas will permit the development of more relevant IT leading to greater value, more focussed implementation and new areas for business development in the IT industry.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15982
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Stewart, Donald & Newman, Beth
Keywords: Innovation Diffusion, Innovation Adoption, Innovation Diffusion Theory, IT, Health, Hospital, Management, IT, Information Technology, IT Maturity, Banking, Organisational Development
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Department: Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Ian William England
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:54
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:41

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