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A Modern Process Perspective, Process Mapping, and Simulation in Health Care: Opportunities and IT Infrastructural Needs
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
Department of Science and Technology (ITN), Linköping University.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many of the anticipated benefits from IT investments in health care have still not materialized. This is certainly true in many industries and organizations, and the reasons behind this development are many. However, health care is somewhat special in the sense that most health care organizations are still functional organizations, instead of focusing on patient value through the entire care process. This, together with questionable IT handling, might begin to explain why possible IT benefits in health care, still, are elusive. Furthermore, today, health care professionals and managers – especially on top managementl evels – often claim that their organizations in fact are “process oriented”, and that one should approach health care from a process perspective in order to utilize the present IT related benefits; such as increased service quality, cost efficiency, and enhanced communication. In this paper we investigate how well founded the concept of process orientation really is – by examining IT/IS infrastructures, and procedures for process definition, visualization, andevaluation – at a prominent hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. A case study ofthe organization and interaction of the emergency and radiology departments at the same hospital (using process mapping and data analysis) reveals data fragmentation, incompatible data, and disparate information systems. Resulting in difficulties regarding process definition and analysis. This, in turn, makes the use of innovative IT-based tools such as simulation, problematic. The implications of this, and the contextual factors, are also discussed and some final recommendations for smooth digitization are put forth.

Keyword [en]
IT, digitization, process mapping, process orientation, data analysis, discrete event simulation (DES), health care
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-108323OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-108323DiVA: diva2:235367
Available from: 2009-09-15 Created: 2009-09-15 Last updated: 2009-12-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Modern Perspectives on the Digital Economy: With Insights From the Health Care Sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modern Perspectives on the Digital Economy: With Insights From the Health Care Sector
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During the last decades, extensive investments in IT have been made more or less within the majority of the existing industries. This development presents both opportunities and risks with regard to organization and change. The main purpose of this thesis is to investigate these new conditions spawned by digitization, and to examine why many of the anticipated benefits have failed to come about. This is done through historical and contemporary studies – together with informed speculations about the future – with health care as the empirical setting.

The research presented here consists of four articles and a revised licentiate thesis. The findings from the studies suggest that despite both academic and practical calls for research that simultaneously considers IT, digitization, organization and organizational change – there is still a lack of such efforts. Furthermore, the results indicate that IT has to be contextualized and broken down into sub-types, a taxonomy or typology, depending on the specific situation. Also, the present stage of digitization determines the conditions for utilization of IT. This also has to be considered. Another conclusion is that digitization, in fact, has lead to increases in productivity. But traditional financial measures are not always suitable for measuring the impact of IT on productivity. The first steps towards being able to really measure the effects from IT and digitization are to establish common standards and nomenclatures in organizations, and to consolidate existing IT systems so that they generate compatible and informative data and information. By doing this organizations are also better suited to define, visualize, measure and evaluate important processes. In turn, they can start becoming truly process oriented.

The thesis presents some possible modern implications from IT and digitization as well. For instance, simulation and digital reward systems can be fruitful management tools. They do however demand a compatible and well thought through IT infrastructure and that the generated data and information is aligned with the overall strategies and visions. The empirical component of this research is based on the health care sector in Sweden, which is one area. However, it is argued that the findings are relevant to other industries as well. This because most large and complex organizations that deal with IT and change run into the problems and opportunities discussed in the presented studies. If we really come to understand how IT-implementations affect organization and change – and vice versa – huge benefits can be realized. The treatment of patients and the situation for medical staff can be improved. Also, the national economy can be boosted due to various export advantages and better public health. Similar benefits can also be achieved in other types of organizations. Through its holistic and pluralistic approach regarding research and methodology, together with the rich empirical descriptions, the thesis presents original and valuable insights for both academics and practitioners. It primarily puts forth investigations of the implications of the reciprocal relationship between IT and digitization on the one hand, and organization and organizational change on the other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Business Studies, 2009. 111 p.
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 145
IT, digitization, organization, organizational change, process, health care
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
Business Studies
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-108218 (URN)
Public defence
2009-10-07, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-09-09 Created: 2009-09-09 Last updated: 2009-09-16

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