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The Diffusion of Innovation theory was developed by Everett Rogers in 1962. The theory discusses and explains how over a certain period a product or an idea can gain momentum and start spreading across precise inhabitants or system. As the idea or product spreads, it makes the population or social system adopt to a new idea, product or behaviors. Adoption is when a person does something different from what they did previously. Adoption can only be considered so if an idea is considered to be innovative or new to allow diffusion (Rogers, 2003). Adoption does not happen automatically within a population or social system because there are people that are always ready to adopt an innovation than others.
To promote innovation to a specific population, Everett insists that it is important to understand the characteristics of the population. Understanding the characteristics of the population will help in identifying factors that can promote or hinder the diffusion of the innovation. The unique thing about the Diffusion of Innovation as a theory of change is that it is not the population that changes but the innovation itself. There are qualities that make an innovation spread. These qualities include a relative advantage. The innovation must also be compatible with the existing values and practice. An innovation that is simple and easy to use will spread faster. The innovation must be seen as less risky and has observable results.
The new Electronic Medical Record System is an example of innovation. The EMR is a systematic way of collecting patient and population data and storing them in a digital format. The innovation can be related to the Diffusion of Innovation theory because it has made the work of medical practitioners easier. Initial use of paperwork to store records was hectic because of the number of patients involved. EMR has made it possible for more than one person to view and use the patients chart. At the same time, EMR is more organized while it allows the storage of more information.
According to the Diffusion of Innovation theory, an innovation that is has a relative advantage spreads faster. EMR has a relative advantage because it is better than traditional paperwork system. EMR is convenient because it improves the efficiency in of the medical practice in hospitals. EMR is compatible with existing values and practices. There was a need for a better way of keeping hospital records other than through paperwork. EMR based on past experiences has made it easier and simple to locate and store records in hospitals. The EMR has observable results. Through the system, it is possible for doctors to improve the quality of service because things like medicine prescription are ensured as appropriate through the decision support that is built in the EMR.
Hospitals want to ensure that they offer the best quality of healthcare to their patient. If the EMR ensures that the quality of service is high, then more hospitals will want to acquire and use the system. The EMR as an innovation diffuses faster not only because of the recommendation by the federal government but because it makes the data collection and storage work easier in hospitals. The innovation reduces the risk of losing data. EMR ensures that errors are reduced due to a digital format that allows accurate reading of patient information.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.
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