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Information technology strategy and alignment issues in health care organizations

Iveroth, Einar; Fryk, Pontus; Rapp, Birger

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31826119d7
Features

Background: Information technology (IT) plays a key role in public health care management because it could improve quality, efficiency, and patient care. Researchers and practitioners repeatedly contend that a health care organization’s information systems strategy should be aligned with its objectives and strategies, a notion commonly known as IT alignment.

Purpose: Actor-related IT alignment issues in health care institutions were explored in this study. More specifically, it explores the possibility of moving beyond the current IT alignment perspective and, in so doing, explores whether IT alignment—as currently conceptualized in the dominant body of research—is sufficient for attaining improved quality, efficiency, and patient care in health care organizations.

Methods: The findings are based on a qualitative and longitudinal study of six health care organizations in the Stockholm metropolitan area. The empirical data were gathered over the 2005–2011 period from interviews, a focus group, observations, and archival material.

Findings: The data suggest recurrent misalignments between IT strategy and organizational strategy and operations due to the failure to deconstruct the IT artifact and to the existence of various levels of IT maturity.

Conclusions: A more complex picture of IT alignment in health care that goes beyond the current perspective is being offered by this study. It argues that the previously common way of handling IT as a single artifact and applying one IT strategy to the entire organizational system is obsolete.

Managerial Implications: The article suggests that considerable benefits can be gained by assessing IT maturity and its impact on IT alignment. The article also shows that there are different kinds of IT in medical care that requires diverse decisions, investments, prioritizations, and implementation approaches.

Einar Iveroth, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Box 513, Sweden. E-mail: einar.iveroth@fek.uu.se.

Pontus Fryk, PhD, is Researcher, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Box 513, Sweden. E-mail: pontus.fryk@hotmail.com.

Birger Rapp, PhD, is Professor, School of Management, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden. E-mail: birger@rapp.se.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins