Purpose: Developing technological innovations in healthcare is made complex and difficult due to effects upon the practices of professional, managerial and other stakeholders. Drawing upon the concept of boundary object, this paper explores the challenges of achieving effective collaboration in the development and use of a novel healthcare innovation in the English healthcare system.
Design: A case study is presented of the development and implementation of a smart phone application (app) for use by rheumatoid arthritis patients. Over a two-year period (2015-2017), qualitative data from recorded clinical consultations (n=17), semistructured
interviews (n=52) and two focus groups (n=13) were obtained from participants involved in the app’s development and use (clinicians, patients,
researchers, practitioners, IT specialists and managers).
Findings: The case focuses on the use of the app and its outputs as a system of interconnected boundary objects. The analysis highlights the challenges overcome in the innovation’s development and how knowledge sharing between patients and clinicians was enhanced, altering the nature of the clinical consultation. It also shows how conditions surrounding the innovation both enabled its development and inhibited its
wider scale up.
Originality: By recognizing that technological artefacts can simultaneously enable and inhibit collaboration, this paper highlights the need to overcome tensions between the transformative capability of such healthcare innovations and the inhibiting effects simultaneously created on change at a wider system level.