The Australian National Office of Information Economy has predicted that Australia is aligned to take advantage of the emerging information economy. It is true that Australia is among the leading countries in terms of internet infrastructure and
other technological developments, however, in comparison with other countries such as Finland, Canada, USA, and Sweden, the Australian healthcare service providers have been extremely slow to implement ICT technological developments such as wireless technology. Various contributing factors have been identified to explain the slow adoption of ICT technologies by researchers in this area, including a lack of management support, training and policies [1–4], the perceived lack of complexity and cost [5–9], the sensitive nature of information and the logistics involved in healthcare facilities [10–13], the nature and type of risk involved , the pressure for high quality of care, high litigation costs, and a lack of infrastructure and other resources . Countries such as India and Pakistan have also caught up with advanced healthcare systems because of health tourism, and their systems are comparable to many western healthcare organisations in terms of ICT sophistication.
In spite of the slow rate of adoption of ICT technology in many healthcare systems, there is very little empirical research in this area . Internationally, researchers have an increased interest in this area; however most of the research is dedicated to the technical and operational areas of ICT. There is very little empirical research into the factors that would lead to the successful adoption of ICT technologies in a given healthcare environment. Knowledge of critical success factors relating to the adoption of ICT technology will not only help to address other issues of adoption in the Australian healthcare system, it will also move forward research in this domain to develop a framework for such adoption.
Typically, background aspects of this study rely on earlier research into adoption, implementation, and innovation diffusion theories relevant to technology in general, including information systems, information technology, and computer technology. Wireless technology is not identical or analogous to any of these areas, and therefore any study which has concentrated on identifying factors or frameworks for the adoption of technology in general has limited applicability in the case of wireless technology for the healthcare system. Owing to the limitation on published results in this area, this study will be exploratory in nature. The long term objective of this study is aimed at developing a framework for the adoption of wireless technology in the Australian healthcare system, and identifying the relevant factors relating to this adoption.
As an starting point, we considered Rogers’ theory of innovation diffusion, as this is considered useful for understanding the facilitators and inhibitors of the implementation of technology in a given environment, because the theory provides an insight into the factors that influence the adoption of innovation.
Furthermore, Roger’s theory has been applied to many non ICT domains and so it is hoped that healthcare will also be a domain that has relevance to this theory.
Rogers’ theory  is primarily concerned with finding factors that influence the extent of adoption, and not the adoption process itself. Previous studies have defined three stages in the technology innovation cycle; adoption, implementation and post implementation [15–17]. Our study concentrates only on the adoption to implement ICT aspect, where the actual decision is made on ICT implementation in a healthcare facility. The decision to adopt depends purely on the drivers and inhibitors of the use of the chosen technology in a healthcare facility. It is anticipated, once the decision to implement the technology is taken, that the process of implementation will start. Once the technology has been implemented and used successfully, then the process of post-implementation will begin, in order to further understand the use of technology and the facilitation of its adoption. We followed this approach as many business process cycles follow the notion of planning, implementation and review, and the adoption, implementation and post-implementation model appears to suit business processes and workflow.
This study did not investigate the processes involved in the implementation of a technology, but assumed that a choice will be made to implement a technology in the healthcare facility, on the basis of identified business drivers. It is also anticipated that effective implementation will not take place at the time of delivery or installation of hardware or software applications; rather, it will happen over a time span dictated by drivers and inhibitors and supported by familiarity, knowledge base, policy framework, infrastructure, level of commitment, and trust, in order to be established and supported by various stakeholders. The main research aim is thus:
What factors motivate and limit the implementation of ICT applications in a healthcare environment?
The specific objective of this research is to identify and determine factors that motivate and limit the implementation of ICT applications in the healthcare domain. This objective is formulated into the following two research questions:
What factors determine ICT developments and their implementation in a healthcare environment?
What factors limit the implementation of ICT developments in a healthcare environment?
Scope of the study
This study is limited to healthcare facilities which have, or are in the process of implementing, innovative ICT developments. Even though it is understood that the implementation of ICT developments can vary from industry to industry, it is hoped that the findings of this research will have some impact on the adoption of ICT developments in other domains. It is also anticipated that this research will provide valuable insights into the current perception of ICT implementation and the factors that contribute towards such implementations in healthcare.