Benefit or burden? A sociotechnical analysis of diagnostic computer kiosks in four California hospital emergency departments
AbstractHigh expectations for new technologies coexist with wide variability in the actual adoption and impact of information technology (IT) projects in clinical settings, and the frequent failure to incorporate otherwise “successful” projects into routine practice. This paper draws on actor–network theory to present an in-depth, sociotechnical analysis of one such project – a computer kiosk designed to diagnose and expedite treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI) in adult women. Research at a hospital urgent care clinic demonstrated the kiosk program's effectiveness at diagnosing UTI and reducing patient wait times, and the kiosk was subsequently adopted by the clinic for routine patient care. However, a study promoting the adoption of the device at emergency departments (ED) was characterized by persistent staff resistance and lower-than-expected patient eligibility for kiosk-assisted care. The device was ultimately abandoned at all but one of the new sites. Observations and interviews with ED staff and the design/research team were conducted at four California EDs between April and July 2011 and point to conflicting understandings of evidence for the device's usefulness and reasons for its (non)adoption. The kiosk program's designers had attempted to “rationalize” medical work by embedding a formal representation of triage practices in the kiosk's software. However, the kiosk's “network” failed to stabilize as it encountered different patient populations, institutional politics, and the complex, pragmatic aspects of ED work at each site. The results of this evaluation challenge the persistent myth that a priori qualities and meanings inhere in technology regardless of context. The design and deployment of new IT projects in complex medical settings would benefit from empirically informed understandings of, and responses to, the contingent properties of human–technology relations.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 12 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Goldenberg, Maya J., 2006. "On evidence and evidence-based medicine: Lessons from the philosophy of science," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(11), pages 2621-2632, June.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.