Thursday, February 1, 2007

Early Adopters

For some time, I have been interested in the characteristics of the early adopters in HIT. The annual 100 "Most Wired Hospitals" list for 2006 seemed like a good place to start an examination. There were 13 new members in the 2006 listing, and if memory serves me correctly, the annual turnover on the list is about 15%. So, who are the institutions who have maintained the rating for all 8 years of the survey? Turns out there are 7 - Avera Health from Sioux Falls, MeritCare from Fargo, Partners from Boston, Sharp from San Diego, Hackensack University Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Valley Health System in Winchester, VA. On the surface, we can find no symmetry relative to geography, hospital type, or size. The answers lie within, apparently.
Turning to Wikipedia, we find the following:
Diffusion of innovations theory was formalized by Everett Rogers in a 1962 book called Diffusion of Innovations. Rogers stated that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%), based on a bell curve. Each adopter's willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. Some of the characteristics of each category of adopter include:
Innovators - venturesome, educated, multiple info sources, greater propensity to take risk
Early adopters - social leaders, popular, educated
Early majority - deliberate, many informal social contacts
Late majority - skeptical, traditional, lower socio-economic status
Laggards - neighbours and friends are main info sources, fear of debt
The 8 institutions are "Innovators,"to be sure, and have sustained their edge, when the diffusion rate of HIT was growing rapidly.
From my vantage point, I would think the internal reasons why the 8 have maintained their rating are: continuity of leadership, a culture which values innovation, sustained financial success, and thoughtful implementation of HIT initiatives.

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