Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Lars Mathiassen - Chair

Second Advisor

Youngjin Yoo

Third Advisor

Mike Gallivan

Fourth Advisor

Dan Robey


A Contextualist Approach to Telehealth Innovations By Sunyoung Cho Abstract Healthcare is considered one of the most important social issues in the U.S. as well as in other societies with ever-increasing costs of medical service provision. The information-intensive nature of the healthcare industry and the perception of information technology (IT) as a way to ease up healthcare costs and improve quality have lead to increased use of and experiments with IT-based innovations. These activities present interesting research opportunities for IS researchers and they have led to an increasing body of knowledge on healthcare information systems. This research aims at contributing to this line of research by adopting a contextualist approach to examine the adoption, use, and further diffusion of telehealth innovations. A contextualist approach provides a particularly interesting and relevant perspective to study adoption and diffusion processes of healthcare innovations. The adopted contextualist approach is process-oriented, it applies multiple levels of analysis, and it accommodates different theoretical lenses to make sense of the two telehealth innovations under investigation. A key assumption is that innovations should be understood as ongoing processes of change, not just technologies, or isolated change events with clear boundaries. Healthcare innovations have in this view much broader connotations, including development of IT-based applications, their adoption and diffusion over time, and the interactions between many stakeholders and organizations that shape the innovation in a specific context. The contextualist approach suggested by Pettigrew is adopted as an overarching framework for multiple studies based on empirical investigation of two telehealth innovations; the main focus is on a telestroke innovation in the U.S. while a radiology innovation in Sweden serves as a complementary case. Each study is documented as an independent research publication with its own theoretical perspective and contributions. The overall contextualist approach and the related findings are then summarized across the individual studies. Telehealth innovations are particularly interesting examples of healthcare information systems. They leverage contemporary network infrastructures and interaction devices to allow provision of healthcare services, clinical information, and education over distance, thereby reducing the costs and improving the availability of medical services. The two telehealth innovations are investigated through in-depth case studies. This theses summary presents the theoretical background for the studies; it motivates and details how the qualitative case studies based on critical realist assumptions were designed and conducted; it outlines the resulting research publications; and it discusses the contributions of investigating telehealth innovations from a contextualist approach.