Decisions to adopt a particular innovation may vary between stakeholders because individual stakeholders may disagree on the costs and benefits involved. This may translate to disagreement between stakeholders on priorities in the implementation process, possibly explaining the slow diffusion of innovations in health care. In this study, we explore the differences in stakeholder preferences for innovations, and quantify the difference in stakeholder priorities regarding costs and benefits.
The decision support technique called the analytic hierarchy process was used to quantify the preferences of stakeholders for nine information technology (IT) innovations in hospital care. The selection of the innovations was based on a literature review and expert judgments. Decision criteria related to the costs and benefits of the innovations were defined. These criteria were improvement in efficiency, health gains, satisfaction with care process, and investments required. Stakeholders judged the importance of the decision criteria and subsequently prioritized the selected IT innovations according to their expectations of how well the innovations would perform for these decision criteria.
The stakeholder groups (patients, nurses, physicians, managers, health care insurers, and policy makers) had different preference structures for the innovations selected. For instance, self-tests were one of the innovations most preferred by health care insurers and managers, owing to their expected positive impacts on efficiency and health gains. However, physicians, nurses and patients strongly doubted the health gains of self-tests, and accordingly ranked self-tests as the least-preferred innovation.
The various stakeholder groups had different expectations of the value of the nine IT innovations. The differences are likely due to perceived stakeholder benefits of each innovation, and less to the costs to individual stakeholder groups. This study provides a first exploratory quantitative insight into stakeholder positions concerning innovation in health care, and presents a novel way to study differences in stakeholder preferences. The results may be taken into account by decision makers involved in the implementation of innovations.