How health IT is changing the nature of medical work


Plurkowski, L., and E. Vinkhuyzen. How health IT is changing the nature of medical work. Sociological Association Annual Meeting; 2011 March 3; Seattle WA.


This ethnographic study highlights the ongoing changes to medical work as institutions adopt health information technology (IT) systems. This talk explains changes in worker attitudes and perspectives, evolutions of work practices, and adaptations in the organization of work as it is collaboratively achieved by configurations of people and technology. The 2010 study included observations and ethnographic interviews with staff in various departments and organizational roles in two very different healthcare settings: a Native American health clinic, and a regional medical group’s hospital setting. I will present a collection of insights on medical records staff, clinicians, pharmacy clerks, and anesthesiologists as they cope with fundamental changes to their work due to the increased adoption of information technology in their respective fields. I will conclude the talk with recommendations for improved health IT design based upon the work ecologies observed.

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