Management Information Systems Quarterly


Rural-urban healthcare access inequality refers to a disparity between rural and urban people with severe medical ailments in gaining access to the high-quality healthcare services they need. Although much hope has been pinned on the use of health information technology (HIT) to alleviate this critical and enduring societal challenge, the realized societal impact of HIT is unclear. Anchoring on both social transformation theory and affordance actualization theory, we conducted an in-depth qualitative study with two rounds of data collection in China. In addition to investigating how the societal challenge has triggered transformative HIT interventions, our analysis contributes to a theory on an HIT solution for the rural-urban healthcare access inequality challenge by establishing a link between HIT affordances and HIT interventions. This is done by examining how microlevel HIT effects escalate to macrolevel HIT effects through societal-level affordance actualization, which can affect this healthcare access inequality challenge. Along with providing policy implications on introducing HIT solutions to address intricate and complex societal challenges, this study extends existing theories by revealing the adaptation of the HIT intervention and differentiating the effects of collective and shared affordances.