AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


Many healthcare providers in the US are seeking increased efficiency and effectiveness by rapidly adopting information technology (IT) solutions such as electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Legislation such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which codified the adoption and “meaningful use” of electronic records in the US, has further spurred the industry-wide adoption of EMR. However, despite what are often large investments in EMR, studies indicate that the healthcare industry maintains a culture of system workarounds. Though perhaps not uncommon, the creation of informal workflows among healthcare workers is problematic for assuring information security and patient privacy, particularly when involving decisions of information management (e.g., information storage, retrieval, and/or transmission). Drawing on the framework of contextual integrity, we assert that one can often explain workarounds involving information transmissions in terms of trade-offs informed by context-specific informational norms. We surveyed healthcare workers and analyzed their willingness to engage in a series of EMR workaround scenarios. Our results indicate that contextual integrity provides a useful framework for understanding information transmission and workaround decisions in the health sector. Armed with these findings, managers and system designers should be better able to anticipate healthcare workers’ information transmission principles (e.g., privacy norms) and workaround patterns (e.g., usage norms). We present our findings and discuss their significance for research and practice.