The Electronic Journal of e-Government publishes perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Government

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Journal Article

Developing Virtual Healthcare Systems in Complex Multi‑Agency Service Settings: the OLDES Project  pp163-170

Gregory Maniatopoulos, Ian McLoughlin, Rob Wilson

© Apr 2009 Volume 7 Issue 2, ECEG 2007, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp123 - 208

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Abstract

Recent developments in internet and digital technologies offer increasing possibilities for transforming the delivery of care by virtual means. However, the care of older people presents challenges and issues at many levels. The realities of the world of older people and of the multiple institutions and agencies that provide care services for them have to be better understood if virtual services are to be configured appropriately. This paper presents the results of an action research exploration of the complexity of needs found in care environments and the difficulties of configuring services when delivered in multi‑agency settings (i.e. jointly across organizational, professional and occupational boundaries). The deployment of a computer‑based graphical demonstrator is illustrated as one means through which, visualizations of different socio‑technical scenarios can be generated. We suggest that this tool can support processes of shared sense making amongst care agencies and institutions. In so doing, it can provide the basis for facilitating more effective 'user' engagement with the design, development and implementation of virtual healthcare systems.

 

Keywords: socio-technical systems, healthcare, older people, virtual services, action research

 

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Journal Article

Integrating the IT Infrastructures in Healthcare Organisations: a Proposition of Influential Factors  pp27-36

Khalil Khoumbati, Marinos Themistocleous

© Dec 2006 Volume 4 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 48

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Abstract

The healthcare industry is composed of primary and secondary healthcare providers. Each provider needs to exchange information with other providers. Information Systems (IS) developed on different types of hardware and software platforms serve this need. Due to the heterogeneous and distributed nature of information and communicating technology (ICT) in the healthcare industry, sharing of the data has become an issue. There is an urgent need for the integration of these distributed IS. Several efforts have been made to achieve the integration, but traditional methods can only in part address integration problems. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) offers another solution to addressing the needs of healthcare information systems integration. From a technical perspective, EAI overcomes integration problems at all levels (e.g. data, process etc.) by providing a flexible and manageable Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. From a business perspective, EAI reduces the overall integration costs by minimising integration time and maintenance cost. A literature review in the area of EAI indicates that EAI adoption has not been studied in depth in relation to healthcare organisations. However, there is a clear need for healthcare organisations to seek EAI adoption. In doing so, a conceptual framework for EAI adoption in healthcare organisations is proposed. Decision makers in healthcare organisations, can use this model when considering EAI adoption.

 

Keywords: Healthcare organisations, adoption, and Enterprise Application Integration

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 4 Issue 1 / Nov 2006  pp1‑48

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The number of e‑government events in terms of conferences, mini‑tracks, special issues of journals and books continues to grow at a pace which is, on the one hand, enormously encouraging, but on the other vaguely depressing. Encouraging because it is great to see so much interest in the subject and the steady increase in both the variety and quality of research; depressing because it has become well nigh impossible to keep up with everything that it happening. Still, it is probably a good complaint to have. As a journal editor, it is healthy to receive an increasing number of articles arrive in my in‑tray. Whether or not articles are eventually published, there is always something to learn from them.

In this edition we have five articles which illustrate the diversity and richness of electronic government as a field of research. Sell et al’s paper is an examination of the practical outcomes of an initiative in Finland to assist members of the community who might have difficulty accessing the grocery markets in the city of Turku (I have actually had the pleasure of wandering around a grocery market in Turku so this paper had a personal resonance for me). This was, in the authors’ words, a bold initiative and their paper compares what the sponsors of the project expected to happen with what actually occurred.

Dillon et al look at developments on the other side of the globe with a longitudinal study of local e‑government in New Zealand. Their study looks at how the use of web based services evolved over a four year period. Their findings about the development paths followed by the local authorities leads them to suggest that there are still plenty of opportunities for using the web strategically in New Zealand local government and provides a platform for comparative papers from other countries.

e‑Government is a broad church. Government activities can range from managing the nation’s finances to running the national airline. One big area of public sector expenditure is healthcare. The article by Khoumbati and Themistocleous examines the use of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) in healthcare services. They identify six common factors that are found in a variety of different integration approaches including EAI, EDI, ERP and web services and propose a conceptual model for the adoption of EAI in healthcare service providers. They suggest that there is much scope for further research into this approach to integration.

The article by Andersen is at a more conceptual level than the others in this issue. He asserts that there are five significant challenges facing e‑government today and explores each of these in turn. He tracks the major shifts in the use of IT in government over the past four decades and argues that there are dangers in current approaches such as a focus on defining boundaries rather than defining services. The author examines the problem of confronting the ‘demand paradox’ and explores some interesting byways, such as the use of IT to avoid work! All in all, this is a thought provoking contribution to the field.

Finally, Henriksen’s paper explores the demand for electronic services in Danish local government at the level of municipalities. The research approach use, examination of log files is an interesting one and there are several informative analyses including the types of services offered and the ratio of users to potential users of these services – a graph which, at a glance, tell the reader a great deal. Like Dillon et al, Henricksen concludes that there is still much to be done in developing the use of IT in local administration.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, open care, efficiency, electronic grocery shopping, e-government, strategy, management, demand, entities, gate-keeping, labor intensity, readiness, competence, local government, policy, electronic citizen services, supply and demand, healthcare, adoption, Enterprise Application Integration

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 4 Issue 2 / Dec 2006  pp49‑94

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

What’s in a name?

One of the fascinating phenomena in marketing is re‑branding. Often the effect of something as simple as a name change can have a significant effect on market perception and sales. Sometime companies spend millions on coming up with a new name complete with corporate logo. Several leading companies have acquire new monikers over the years: Exxon, Diageo and Accenture to name but a few.

The rationale for changing name varies. Sometimes it is necessary to provide a common identity to a conglomerate that has grown by acquisition. Sometime is it because of a split or spin off. Sometimes a company may re‑name itself after a highly successful product or to distance itself after a split off from another organisation.

As in corporate life; so in academic. I was recently listening to a paper at a conference where the speaker opined that e‑government was dead and that we should now be talking about transformative government. My immediate reaction was why stop there? If e‑government is dead, what about digital government (a preferred term with many US academics) or informatization, a term with a much longer pedigree than e‑government or how about sounding the death knell for i‑government or virtual government or technology enabled government? The expression ‘transformative government’ is a good example of what might be called verbal inflation, i.e. the propensity to think of ever more grandiose words to describe the same thing. All e‑government is, at some level, transformative but there is little evidence so far that the use of ICT in government, which recall now goes back nearly 50 years, is actually seriously transforming the processes of governance itself except at the margins. To apply the word ‘transformative’ to what is going on in e‑government at the moment is to overstate, by a large margin, what is actually happening. It may well be that the incremental impact of e‑government will be seriously transformative or that some major change will suddenly occur, but let’s keep our heads. So far there is little to suggest that government structure, bureaucracies, balances of power or decision making is significantly affected. There are straws in the wind, but no radical changes as yet.

Often, when academics in a field feel that they need to change the name of what they are doing, there are good reasons for this. Unfortunately, there are also times when a change of name is little more than fresh coat of paint for old ideas. Knowledge management is one good example of this. We don’t need to do this for e‑government which remains as good a name as any for what is still an expanding and exciting field of research. When we do get genuinely transformative government, which I hope will be soon, maybe we can re‑badge our field. In the meantime, the name of this journal at least will remain unchanged.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, open care, efficiency, electronic grocery shopping, e-government, strategy, management, demand, entities, gate-keeping, labor intensity, readiness, competence, local government, policy, electronic citizen services, supply and demand, healthcare, adoption, Enterprise Application Integration

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 2, ECEG 2007 / Apr 2009  pp123‑208

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

At the time of writing this editorial, I have just returned from the ICEGOV conference on e‑government and e‑governance in Ankara. In addition to excellent Turkish hospitality, the conference threw up a couple of lively debates in the parallel sessions. A good, well behaved academic argument can be one of the most productive and rewarding parts of a conference. Unfortunately good debates tend to be relatively rare as Session Chairs, armed with a “time up” card and a severe set of instructions from the organisers give each presenter their statutory 20 minutes plus five for questions before it is time for “next please”. Occasionally a discussion will continue during coffee or lunch, but sometimes debates only occur because the next speaker doesn’t turn up.

In Ankara, one of these debates was about what was meant by “e‑governance”? During the discussion, it quickly became clear that not only was there no agreement in the room on what the term meant, but also that some of those present were even unclear in their own minds what the difference was between e‑ government and e‑governance. The sight of academics disagreeing about anything and everything, including semantics, is as old as the first university seminar, but semantics matter in academia and the absence of clarity on what is meant by e‑governance was somewhat disconcerting. Rightly or wrongly, I got the feeling that many in the room had not actually given the matter much thought.

This lack of clarity is not an unknown phenomenon. Information systems have an unhappy history of relabelling basic concepts even though, in many cases, nothing fundamental in the technology has changed. Sometimes terms outlive their usefulness and have to be replaced and/or upgraded. On other occasions it seems more like an attempt to resuscitate a floundering field. Recently, even the term “e‑ government” has been under attack. At a meeting I attended last December, one of those present even suggested, I think only partially in jest, that we needed an exit strategy for e‑government. Various replacements are mooted including “transformational government”, “digital government” (popular in the US), “government 2.0” and, more recently, e‑governance. The latter is an unfortunate suggestion, because government and governance have quite different meanings. Furthermore, governance is a notoriously contentious, not to say downright slippery, subject even before putting “e‑“ in front of it.

Not surprisingly, a number of scholars have addressed the difference between e‑governance and e‑ government (including in this journal). While this is of some help, there are just too many interpretations of the expression. Definitions of e‑governance range from an information age model of governance to a “commitment” to use ICT to, inter alia, enhance human dignity and deliver economic development. Other authors more or less equate e‑governance with e‑democracy (in one article published in a leading journal a few years ago, the word “e‑governance” appears in the title and nowhere else in the text!). All this does not help when attending a conference presentation with “e‑governance” in the title although it may give a frisson of excitement as we await the definition that the presenter has in mind.

In a simple search on the web, it is possible to find quite a large number of scholarly papers on e‑ governance. Google throws up over four and half thousand of them. Prior to writing this, I scanned about a dozen of these. While a few differentiated between e‑government and e‑governance, none of them gave a satisfactory account of the material difference between e‑governance and plain old non “e‑“ governance. Such an article may be out there, but I suspect that there is a gap in the market for a really good paper on this topic.

Whatever the definition(s), it behoves academics and scholars to be clear in what they say. Muddling up two quite different concepts is not good scholarship. There is also a need to put some clear blue water between e‑governance and governance generally. ICT certainly enables us to do many things that were heretofore impractical thus reifying hitherto theoretical or abstract problems. Whether it creates new problems is not so obvious. There is plenty of scope for some further contributions to this debate.

 

Keywords: business process improvement, business process reengineering, case study, digital democracy, digital services, e-business, e-commerce, e-democracy, e-governance, e-government services, electronic tax filing, engagement, enterprise information architecture, e-participation, e-procurement, e-revenue, e-tax, e-transactions, e-transparency, e-trust, information technology, internal stakeholders, international tax strategy, Japan, local e-government, National Tax Agency, organizational (re-)design, permanent establishment (PE), public service reform, Romanian e-government, socio-technical systems design, systems architecture, telehealthcare, transfer pricing, transformational impact of e-government

 

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