Innovation Adoption Research in Healthcare: Understanding Context and Embracing Complexity




innovation, adoption, healthcare, technology, acceptance


This paper presents a literature review on innovation adoption in healthcare. Healthcare is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing industries, driven by demands such as ageing populations, increasing co-morbidity, and improving technologies. Innovation continues to be a key driver in balancing cost containment and improving quality for health systems. However, healthcare has been slow to adopt and utilize the numerous innovations available to improve patient outcomes and efficiency. Stakeholders in healthcare innovation need to understand the influences on innovation adoption to increase the success rate of implementing innovation into practice. This literature review was conducted via searches of publication databases using selected keywords regarding innovation and adoption in general, and in healthcare specifically. Publications from academic journals and grey literature were assessed based on relevance to the topic, quality, influence, and citations. Key papers, theories, findings, and conclusions in the field are discussed in this review. The review revealed that innovation adoption has been extensively studied in multiple disciplines over decades. However, most
empirical research and theory development has taken place in the context of information technologies (IT) and their adoption in various industries and sectors. Research has mainly focused on individual acceptance and adoption of technology, which is less appropriate in healthcare due to its complex organizational structures, processes, and highly skilled workforce with significant social influence. Research into organizational adoption of innovation has been conducted, but these models have
generally been utilized less in research and practice, both in general and specifically in healthcare. Within healthcare literature, innovation adoption has been recognized as a complex and challenging issue with multiple factors influencing success. However, research and theory development have generally been more limited in this setting. The review concludes with suggestions to bring learning from disciplines with stronger theory development to the healthcare setting. A novel conceptual model specific to healthcare is posited, accounting for the complexity of the system and understanding the
process through a holistic approach. This model should be useful to and useable by any healthcare innovation stakeholder, from clinicians, to industry, to policy makers, as well as by researchers in this field.