Implementing digital healthcare initiatives at scale is notoriously difficult. Having carried out a variety of previous studies on the overall barriers and enablers to the uptake of connected health solutions nationally and internationally [1], it is clear that organisational-readiness for change is a key success factor for implementing eHealth at scale.

In order to ascertain the level of readiness within Irish organisations for eHealth, the centre for Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH) has conducted a survey of the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Council of Clinical Information Officers (CCIO). The survey sought to capture the opinions of CCIO members with regard to how ready they perceive their organisations are to make the necessary cultural, structural and financial changes necessary when implementing a large-scale eHealth programme. The CCIO membership is predominantly comprised of clinical staff who have direct experience or a particular interest in using eHealth within their practice.

This piece of research was conducted by Dr Maria Quinlan, Research Lead for ARCH’s Change Pillar, and forms part of a wider research collaboration which ARCH has undertaken with the HSE’s Office of the Chief Information Officer [2]. The aim of this collaboration is to research the implementation of the national eHealth strategy, leveraging ARCH research and expertise in the area of implementation science.

Speaking about the report Dr Quinlan said;

“In this report we outline the findings from the quantitative element of our research with the CCIO group. While this survey is limited in size it provides us with some very interesting insights which can help us to begin to further explore and understand how to increase the likelihood of successful implementation of the eHealth strategy within the HSE.”

Welcoming the report Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Office, HSE, added;

 “This research builds upon our commitment that eHealth is open and transparent.  The findings give a great insight into the perceived readiness for eHealth programme implementations, and where the challenges might lie.  There is no doubt that there is great clinical leadership within the system at every level and this is important for the success of the eHealth strategy.  The CCIO is an integral part of building the digital fabric needed within the health service as set out in our strategy.”

 

Key findings from the report include;

  • Overall positive perceptions of organisational-readiness for eHealth amongst the CCIO membership

 Over half of all respondents in the sample agree that their organisation is ready to implement eHealth (55%); almost 60% agree that there is strong leadership support and clinical support for eHealth within their organisation; and 56% agree that innovation is valued in their workplace. These are all factors which are identified as key to successful implementation of change programmes within healthcare.

  • Leadership and clinical support in place – however more resources of money, people and time required

Regarding the specific resources  available to implement eHealth, while again respondents perceive there to be adequate amounts of clinical and leadership support for eHealth, fewer believe that their organisations have the time, people or money necessary to implement eHealth.

Allied to these findings, the report contains the CCIO members’ perceptions of open-ness to change amongst various professional groups within their organisation; it outlines differences in perceptions by profession and by care-setting; and assesses issues of power and hierarchy which may point to implementation blind-spots for the eHealth implementation.

A more detailed summary of the report can be viewed here.

[1] Quinlan, M., Doyle, G. and Geiger, S. (2016) ‘The Healthcare Organisational-level Change Challenge; Key Learnings from the Movement towards Integrated Care in the US’, Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH) Report, April 2016; Quinlan, M., Geiger, S., Duffy, J. and Phelan, P. (2014) ‘Analysis of the implementation of connected healthcare within the United Kingdom – barriers and enablers’, Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH) Report, January 2014.; Quinlan, M. and Geiger, S. (2014) ‘Analysis of the implementation of connected healthcare within the US – – barriers and enablers’, Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH) Report, June 2014.

[2] Please see http://www.ehealthireland.ie/Stakeholder-Engagement/Research/Research-into-eHealth-Implementation1.html for more details of the ARCH/HSE collaboration