Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Today there is mixed evidence that health IT decreases costs and/or improves care quality in the US. Some of the same factors that have driven delays in realizing the benefits from IT investments in other industries (i.e., time consuming process changes) are apparent in the U.S. healthcare industry, which is only now digitizing its fundamental patient data, the electronic health record. The healthcare industry itself is in transition and new IT may not provide full benefit unless it is accompanied with a restructuring of healthcare delivery. Traditional ex post approaches to measuring IT value will limit the ability of healthcare IT value researchers to add value to practice now especially as government incentives in the US drive significant investment. But generalizing results from traditional IT value research to the healthcare setting is risky due to differences between healthcare and other industries. I advocate for action design research that uses existing theory as a foundation, but adapts it to the specific unique characteristics of this industry. By actively participating in the design and evaluation of new socio-technical systems, IT value researchers can generate grounded theory to explain value creation in healthcare while influencing practice now.