Evidence is emerging that certain technologies such as computerized provider order entry may reduce the likelihood of patient harm. However, many technologies that should reduce medical errors have been abandoned because of problems with their design, their impact on workflow, and general dissatisfaction with them by end users. Patient safety researchers have therefore looked to human factors engineering for guidance on how to design technologies to be usable (easy to use) and useful (improving job performance, efficiency, and/or quality). While this is a necessary step towards improving the likelihood of end user satisfaction, it is still not sufficient. Human factors engineering research has shown that the manner in which technologies are implemented also needs to be designed carefully if benefits are to be realized. This paper reviews the theoretical knowledge on what leads to successful technology implementation and how this can be translated into specifically designed processes for successful technology change. The literature on diffusion of innovations, technology acceptance, organisational justice, participative decision making, and organisational change is reviewed and strategies for promoting successful implementation are provided. Given the rapid and ever increasing pace of technology implementation in health care, it is critical for the science of technology implementation to be understood and incorporated into efforts to improve patient safety.
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