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Digital healthcare research

Building on over a decade’s work on eHealth policy, patient centred care and electronic prescribing.

This research highlights how IT led innovation in healthcare creates complex and ongoing processes of socio-technical change and transformation.
Electronic pulse trace

The digital healthcare research stream explores the theory and practices of digitalisation of healthcare, with a particular focus on activities and systems related to the supply and use of medicines.

Our research builds on over a decade’s work on eHealth policy, patient centred care and electronic prescribing. It includes major evaluations of the English NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) that set out to introduced a national digital infrastructure across all levels of healthcare (primary, secondary and urgent care).

This past research includes:

Among the researchers who have worked in this area at LSE are:  

  • Tony Cornford, LSE Department of Management
  • Ela Klecun, LSE Department of Management
  • Will Venters, LSE Department of Management
  • Ralph Hibberd, former LSE Department of Management
  • Jane Dickson, former LSE Department of Management
  • Valentina Lichtner (now Leeds University)
  • Dimitra Petrakaki (now Sussex University)
  • Maryam Ali (now PWC)
  • Katerina Voutsina (now The American College of Greece)

Delivering Digital Drugs project

Digital Drugs: noun, pl.,
Drugs that are dependent on and substantially constituted by multiple digital representations and connections, and whose use and effectiveness is strongly mediated through digital means.

Drawing on the expertise and insight gained from work on digital health, electronic prescribing, and more recently electronic transmission of prescriptions led to our current project, Delivering Digital Drugs. This research, funded by the RCUK under the 'New Economic Models in the Digital Economy' programme, addresses the digitalization of the chain of supply and use of medicines.

Examples of this digitalisation include secure supply chains for therapeutic drugs offering digital market intelligence, electronic prescribing with decision support, robot dispensing, computer based diagnostic procedures with linked medicines management practices, stratified and personalised medicines drawing on pharmacogenomics, smart drug platforms, and new levels of pharmacovigilance.

In each case there is at the core a new or enhanced digital element to the medicine itself, drawing on algorithmic and data resources. The D3 project maps this rapidly evolving domain and the relationships between the many and various areas of innovation where digital elements are being engaged in drugs. 

Read more on this topic:


This research highlights how IT led innovation in healthcare creates complex and ongoing processes of sociotechnical change and transformation. When proposing, promoting and experiencing such digital innovation all stakeholders  (e.g. policy makers, practitioners, patients and innovators) work with overly simple models of technology and overly simple models of what change is and how it occurs. 

In this project we propose new models of sociodigital change distributed across space and time, and revealing drugs as a new and transformed digital resources.

Outputs and impact

LSE Digital Healthcare researchers work in this project with NHS and Department of Health colleagues, as well as with the Health Foundation and supply industries. Our goal is to help shape the debate on healthcare digital innovation looking beyond discrete IT projects and their implementation.

In this spirit the Connecting for Health evaluation projects provided a careful and detailed critique of the implementation of parts of the National Programme for IT (now abandoned) and the challenges to the ‘ruthless standardisation’ that the programme envisioned at its outset.

Our research on digital innovation and transformation in healthcare also crosses domains and has relevance in other areas. Examples include: 

Illustrative publications

Petrakaki, Dimitra and  Klecun, Ela (2015) “Hybridity as a process of technology's 'translation': Customizing an electronic patient record in an English hospital” Social Science & Medicine, 124, 224-231.

Klecun, Ela  (2015) “Transforming healthcare: Policy discourses of ICT and Patient-Centred Care”. European Journal of Information Systems advance online publication 28 April 2015; doi: 10.1057/ejis.2014.40

Petrakaki, Dimitra, Klecun, Ela and Cornford, Tony (2014) Changes in healthcare professional work afforded by technology: the introduction of a national electronic patient record in an English hospital. Organization, online . pp. 1-21. ISSN 1350-5084

Klecun, E., Lichtner, V., Cornford, T. and Petrakaki, D Evaluation as a Multi-Ontological Endeavour: A Case from the English National Program for IT in Healthcare, Journal of the Association for Information Systems Vol. 15, Issue 3, pp. 147-176, March 2014

Lichtner, Valentina, Venters, Will, Hibberd, Ralph, Cornford, Tony and Barber, Nick (2013) The fungibility of time in claims of efficiency: the case of making transmission of prescriptions electronic in English general practice. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 82 (12). pp. 1152-1170. ISSN 1386-5056

Robertson, Ann, Cornford, Tony, Barber, Nick, Avery, Anthony and Sheikh, Aziz (2012) The NHS IT project: more than just a bad dream. Lancet, 379 (9810). pp. 29-30. ISSN 0140-6736

Sheikh, Aziz, Cornford, Tony, Barber, Nick, et al.  (2011) Implementation and adoption of nationwide electronic health records in secondary care in England: final qualitative results from prospective national evaluation in "early adopter" hospitals. British Medical Journal, 343 (oct17 ). d6054-d6054. ISSN 0959-8138