A commitment to Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems now constitutes a core part of many governments’ healthcare reform strategies. The resulting politically-initiated largescale or national EHR endeavors are challenging because of their ambitious agendas of change, the scale of resources needed to make them work, the (relatively) short timescales set, and the large number of stakeholders involved, all of whom pursue somewhat different interests. These initiatives need to be evaluated to establish if they improve care and represent value for money.
Critical reflections on these complexities in the light of experience of undertaking the first national, longitudinal, and sociotechnical evaluation of the implementation and adoption of England’s National Health Service’s Care Records Service (NHS CRS). Results/discussion We advance two key arguments. First, national programs for EHR implementations are likely to take place in the shifting sands of evolving sociopolitical and sociotechnical and contexts, which are likely to shape them in significant ways. This poses challenges to conventional evaluation approaches which draw on a model of baseline operations intervention changed operations (outcome). Second, evaluation of such programs must account for this changing context by adapting to it. This requires careful and creative choice of ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions.
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