Informating Hospital Workflow Coordination
Through a qualitative case study at Kalnes general hospital in Norway, we investigate the use of workflow information to manage hospital resources and coordinate patient flow from emergency unit admission to patient transfer and discharge. We draw on Zuboff’s ( 1988 ) notion of “informating” – turning descriptions and measurements of activities, events and objects into information – to examine how hospital staff leverage an integrated hospital information infrastructure to share, validate and use workflow information. We contribute to CSCW literature by explicating how information transparency, the meticulous boundary-spanning work of dedicated coordinators, and the regular conduct of coordinative meetings can help to establish the legitimacy of workflow information in practice. In our case, interdepartmental visibility of workflow information raises awareness of menial and often-overlooked hospital housekeeping work, and simultaneously motivates collaborative efforts to monitor and improve workflows. Our findings highlight the need for a broad and inclusive approach to the legitimation of workflow information, both in daily coordinative practice and in efforts to streamline hospital workflows.