Technology identity: The role of sociotechnical representations in the adoption of medical devices
SourceSocial Science & Medicine, 98, (2013), pp. 95-105
Article / Letter to editor
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Social Science & Medicine
SubjectNCEBP 3: Implementation Science
This study explored the sociotechnical influences shaping the naturally-occurring adoption and non-adoption of device technologies in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), amid increasing policy interest in this area. The study was informed by Science and Technology Studies and structuration and Actor Network Theory perspectives, drawing attention to the performative capacities of the technology alongside human agentic forces such as agendas and expectations, in the context of structural and macro conditions. Eight technologies were studied using a comparative ethnographic case study design and purposive and snowball sampling to identify relevant NHS, academic and industry participants. Data were collected between May 2009 and February 2012, included in-depth interviews, conference observations and printed and web-based documents and were analysed using constructivist grounded theory methods. The study suggests that while adoption decisions are made within the jurisdiction of healthcare organisations, they are shaped within a dynamic and fluid 'adoption space' that transcends organisational and geographic boundaries. Diverse influences from the industry, health care organisation and practice, health technology assessment and policy interact to produce 'technology identities.' Technology identities are composite and contested attributes that encompass different aspects of the technology (novelty, effectiveness, utility, risks, requirements) and that give a distinctive character to each. We argue that it is these socially constructed and contingent heuristic identities that shape the desirability, acceptability, feasibility and adoptability of each technology, a perspective that policy must acknowledge in seeking to intervene in health care technology adoption.
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