IT-adoption and the interaction of task, technology and individuals

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For about four decades now information technology (IT) has existed in health care. The use of electronic records can offer health care professionals access to patient information, decision support systems, and knowledge servers that allow access to evidence based medicine. Information technology projects are not always successful it was noted that approximately sixty to seventy percent of these projects fail. This can lead to loss of confidence with respect to IT from the point of users. The researchers noted that success and failure has been largely discussed in literature in the past years.

The researchers stated that there were two questions that should be answered by medical informatics research and they are: 1. What are the “socio-organization” factors that influence adoption of an IT system in a given socio-organizational context? 2. Based on the answers to question 1: Is there any way to predict the effects of an IT system in a certain context?

The researchers aimed to present an approach to answer the first question. The second question will be addressed more from philosophical point of view due to the fact an exact prediction of failure or success. Several previous works on IT adoption were reviewed and some of them included were: Information Success Model, technology acceptance model (TAM), Information Technology Adoption Model (ITAM), and task-technology-fit model (TTF). With there literature review they found it best to use a model based on interaction (fit) of users, tasks, and technology to understand IT adoption.

They came up with a FITT (“Fit between Individuals, Task, and Technology”). They based this on the idea adoption of IT depends upon attributes of users; technology; and clinical tasks and processes. Some examples of user Fit attributes are related to computer anxiety and motivation. Usability, functionality, and performance are examples of Fit attributes of technology. Fit attributes of clinical tasks and processes given are the complexity and organization.

User involvement in the selection process and support for the users during can improve the fit between the three aspects. Users must be sufficiently motivated and knowledgeable to execute tasks. Technology must offer sufficient function and performance for a task. Users must be trained sufficiently to use a technology adequately. With these items accomplished there will probably be less problems during the implementation process.

Several factors noted in the article would determine the quality of the fit. On individual level, the following factors mentioned IT knowledge, motivation, flexibility, openness, team culture, cooperation, and politics within an organization. On the task level factors noted are organization of the tasks, activities and interdependence, and complexity of the task. Stability and usability of software or hardware, costs, integration, and functionality were factors noted for technology. It was noted that management would be able to influence these attributes to optimize fit.

There are deliberate actions that can be taken for fit to be optimized. Involvement in the selection process, introduction of good change management, user training, user support, and motivation are all actions that assist in fit being optimized. At the task level looking at how best to reorganize tasks and work processes, and clarification of workflow will also assist. Optimization of fit at the technology level includes hardware and software upgrades, redesign of paper based forms, and network upgrades.

There are also external factors that will influence fit. Some external factors that affect fit at the staff level are: staff changes, workload of staff, hospital strategy are. At the task level changes in the difficulty of the task, organizational changes, and changes with patient profiles. External factors that influence fit at the technology level are technological advancements and software standard changes.

Several cases studies were reviewed in the research paper. The first one has to do with IT adoption and use of the FITT framework at a German university hospital. Three cases studies involved wards of hospitals. The wards were a dermatological, pediatric, and psychiatric.

The researchers concluded that based on the review of other analysis done for IT adoption frame work they determined the FITT framework was used successfully. They also determined that this work should assist with a better understanding of the reason IT projects succeed or fail. It should therefore assist with IT being better able to prepare and be more successful with IT implementations.

Krystal Lloyd