This paper discusses the development, and assesses the appropriateness, of a Clinical Process Mapping Methodology (CPMM) to support information systems (ISs) innovation in acute hospitals. It is based on an ongoing longitudinal study in acute academic teaching hospitals in Ireland. The key rationale underpinning the research was that any attempt to develop ISs to support or change clinical work, must be based on a sophisticated, holistic and granular understanding of existing practices. Drawing on the insights gleaned through this observational study, an initial CPMM was developed by adapting elements from existing modelling languages to fit the clinical context in question.

Our observations highlight the complex, collaborative and contingent nature of clinical practice, and the important mediating role played by technical and non-technical artefacts. This complexity would caution against viewing modelling as a panacea, which can be used to map the world in an objective or unproblematic manner. While modelling can be very helpful for facilitating new perspectives on work, and for facilitating productive collective sensemaking processes, it should be borne in mind that all models are purposeful, and necessarily partial, representations of the 'real' world. This underlines the importance of using any modelling approach in a discriminating and reflective way.