Innovation in Healthcare: Success Factors for Innovative Healthcare Change Processes




innovation, change, hospitals, healthcare, digitalisation


Many factors contribute to increasing the need for innovation in healthcare. Global demographic developments with falling birth rates and increasing lifespan mean that the proportion of elderly in society is expected to increase dramatically in all developed countries. Moreover, continuous scientific advances afford possibilities for higher effectiveness in healthcare processes. Innovation can and does take place in the form of medical discoveries which enhance the efficiency of treatments or in the form of technological advances, for instance, in ehealth, which provide increased options for healthcare delivery. However, innovation can also be of an organisational nature since healthcare organisations are complex organisations with legal and ethical constraints that are difficult to manage effectively. Organisational innovation requires change processes of various kinds. The purpose of this paper is to explore success factors for innovative change processes in healthcare organisations. Change processes related to digitalisation are of particular interest.

Qualitative methodology was chosen in order to gain a deeper understanding of the area and not to exclude aspects based on preconceptions. A multiple case study has been carried out. To achieve focus, the study population was limited to public hospitals in Sweden. Change processes, usually involving digitalisation, in seven hospitals of various sizes have been studied. Individual qualitative interviews were chosen as the method of data collection. Between two and nine interviews were conducted, giving a total of forty interviews. The respondents were people who had participated in the change processes, mainly nurses, physicians, and administrative staff, some of whom had managerial positions on lower levels. The data from the interviews were analysed using the constant comparative method from the grounded theory approach. The analysis yielded a number of categories depicting success factors under different conditions. A framework was constructed depicting the factors and their internal relationships. The categories and the framework should be valuable for managers of healthcare organisations as well as for increasing the conceptual understanding of the field.