This study investigated the challenges that a national health care organization in Saudi Arabia had to overcome to implement a nationwide large-scale health care information system. The study also examined the implications of those issues on the applicability of organizational change management models in health care systems implementations.
The project’s focus on the implementation process directed the methodology toward a qualitative approach. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were used. Thirty-two participants were interviewed. They were members of the organization who were directly involved with the implementation either as information technology executives and managers, information technology analysts and implementers, senior hospital executives from clinical areas, or other stakeholders from various departments.
The data were systematically analyzed. This led to the inductive identification of 39 codes, which were further refined and structured through additional stages of analysis influenced by grounded theory. The most significant challenges were categorized under three broad interconnected themes: Information Technology and Systems (internal and external issues), Managerial Affairs (managing the project and resources), and Behavioral Issues (leadership and change management structures).
The findings divulged a set of unique problems for this organization. Some challenges were specific to it because of its nature, resources (financial and human), size, distribution of sites, project scale and its regional setting, and political atmosphere, while others were more generic problems typical of health care systems implementations. What has resulted from this implementation was a model for leading change in health care systems implementations that could be used to guide information technology implementations in health care organizations elsewhere.