In search of information systems value : a case study of the EHR benefits realisation efforts of three Swedish hospitals
Abstract: The Swedish public health care organisation could very well be undergoing its most significant change since its specialisation during the late 19th and early 20th century. At the heart of this change is a move from using manual patient journals to electronic health records (EHR). EHR are complex integrated organisational wide information systems (IS) that promise great benefits and value as well as presenting great challenges to the organisation. The Swedish public health care is not the first organisation to implement integrated IS, and by no means alone in their quest for realising the potential benefits and value that it has to offer. As organisations invest in IS they embark on a journey of value-creation and capture. A journey where a cost-based approach towards their IS-investments is replaced with a value-centric focus, and where the main challenges lie in the practical day-to-day task of finding ways to intertwine technology, people and business processes. This has however proven to be a problematic task. The problematic situation arises from a shift of perspective regarding how to manage IS in order to gain value. This is a shift from technology delivery to benefits delivery; from an IS-implementation plan to a change management plan. The shift gives rise to challenges related to the inability of IS and the elusiveness of value. As a response to these challenges the field of IS-benefits management has emerged offering a framework and a process in order to better understand and formalise benefits realisation activities. In this thesis the benefits realisation efforts of three Swedish hospitals within the same county council are studied. The thesis focuses on the participants of benefits analysis projects; their perceptions, judgments, negotiations and descriptions of potential benefits. The purpose is to address the process where organisations seek to identify which potential IS-benefits to pursue and realise, this in order to better understand what affects the process, so that realisation actions of potential IS-benefits could be supported. A qualitative case study research design is adopted and provides a framework for sample selection, data collection, and data analysis. It also provides a framework for discussions of validity, reliability and generalizability. Findings displayed a benefits fluctuation, which showed that participants’ perception of what constituted potential benefits and value changed throughout the formal benefits management process. Issues like structure, knowledge, expectation and experience affected perception differently, and this in the end changed the amount and composition of potential benefits and value. Five dimensions of benefits judgment were identified and used by participants when finding accommodations of potential benefits and value to pursue. Identified dimensions affected participants’ perceptions, which in turn affected the amount and composition of potential benefits. During the formal benefits management process participants shifted between judgment dimensions. These movements emerged through debates and interactions between participants. Judgments based on what was perceived as expected due to one’s role and perceived best for the organisation as a whole were the two dominant benefits judgment dimensions. A benefits negotiation was identified. Negotiations were divided into two main categories, rational and irrational, depending on participants’ drive when initiating and participating in negotiations. In each category three different types of negotiations were identified having different characteristics and generating different outcomes. There was also a benefits negotiation process identified that displayed management challenges corresponding to its five phases. A discrepancy was also found between how IS-benefits are spoken of and how actions of IS benefits realisation are understood. This was a discrepancy between an evaluation and a realisation focus towards IS value creation. An evaluation focus described IS-benefits as well-defined and measurable effects and a realisation focus spoke of establishing and managing an on-going place of value creation. The notion of valuescape was introduced in order to describe and support the understanding of IS value creation. Valuescape corresponded to a realisation focus and outlined a value configuration consisting of activities, logic, structure, drivers and role of IS.
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