Using social knowledge networking technology to enable meaningful use of electronic health record technology in hospitals and health systems

Pavani Rangachari


Despite the federal policy momentum towards “meaningful use” of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), the healthcare organizational literature remains replete with reports of unintended adverse consequences of implementing EHRs, including: increased work for clinicians, unfavorable workflow changes, and unexpected changes in communication patterns & practices. In addition to being costly and unsafe, these unintended adverse consequences may pose a formidable barrier to “meaningful use” of EHRs. Correspondingly, it is essential for hospital administrators to understand and detect the causes of unintended adverse consequences, to ensure successful implementation of EHRs. The longstanding Technology-in-Practice framework emphasizes the role of human agency in enacting structures of technology use or “technologies-in-practice”. Given a set of unintended adverse consequences from health information technology implementation, this framework could help trace them back to specific actions (types of technology-in-practice) and institutional conditions (social structures). On the other hand, the more recent Knowledge-in-Practice framework helps understand how information and communication technologies (e.g., social knowledge networking systems) could be implemented alongside existing technology systems, to create new social structures, generate new knowledge-in-practice, and transform technology-in-practice. Therefore, integrating the two literature streams could serve the dual purpose of understanding and overcoming unintended adverse consequences of EHR implementation. This paper seeks to: (1) review the theoretical literatures on technology use & implementation, and identify a framework for understanding & overcoming unintended adverse consequences of implementing EHRs; (2) outline a broad project proposal to test the applicability of the framework in enabling “meaningful use” of EHRs in a healthcare context; and (3) identify strategies for successful implementation of EHRs in hospitals & health systems, based on the literature review and application.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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