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In-progress research projects

Adapting Digital Platforms to Drive Learning in Health Systems

With: Agnes Grudniewicz and Antoine Sauré, Telfer School of Management; James King, CHEO and uOttawa; Mark de Reuver, TUDelft

Funded by: University of Ottawa’s Interdisciplinary Research Group Funding Opportunity (IRGFO) – Stream 1

This project is part of an international effort aiming to transform healthcare organizations (e.g., hospitals) into learning health systems (LHSs). In LHSs, clinical and research data are rapidly and continuously transformed into new insights and practice changes that seek to improve clinical and operational outcomes; the results of these changes then feed new discoveries, creating a continuous learning cycle.  While existing health information systems such as electronic health records (EHRs) can support the collection and, to a certain degree, the analysis of clinical data needed to drive learning cycles, they cannot support the definition and management of learning cycles and the activities needed for generating knowledge from data and acting upon this knowledge. Doing so requires addressing interrelated dimensions of LHSs such as scientific, social, and technical ones, and supporting decision-making within these dimensions.

A digital platform for LHSs could help address these challenges by providing health teams or organizations with tools and resources to dynamically and sustainably generate and act on new knowledge within LHS learning cycles. This project thus draws from the understanding of the multiple dimensions of LHSs to elucidate the structure and functioning of a digital platform for LHSs through the adaptation of platform theory. Specifically, our research objectives for this project are to: 1) Develop a conceptual framework relating key components of a digital platform and LHS core dimensions; 2) Derive the meta-requirements of a digital platform for LHSs.

This project will follow the Design Science Research (DSR) methodology (DSRM). The DSRM defines a research process and methods within this process for moving from practical research problems to artefact development and evaluation in a manner that contributes to theoretical knowledge and provides practical knowledge to professionals. The DSRM consists of five phases: 1) problem identification; 2) definition of the artefact’s objectives; 3) design and development of the artefact; 4) demonstration of the artefact’s applicability; 5) evaluation of the artefact’s validity. This specific project will focus on the first and second phases, with the intention to undertake the remaining phases with funding secured through a Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP) grant.

The results of this project will extend platform theory to the domain of health systems. At a practical level, they will provide high-level requirements that can be used to guide the design of digital platforms supporting organizational learning in other domains. We plan to publish these results in a high-impact health informatics journal. Moreover, the outcome of this research project will provide the conceptual and practical foundations for a larger-scale research project focusing on the remaining phases of the DSR methodology, leading to a validated digital platform supporting the definition and management of learning cycles within LHSs.

A Case Study of Health Service Platform Architecture

With: Mark de Reuver, TUDelft

Funded by: Telfer School of Management Research Grants (SMRG)

Health service platforms (HSPs) are increasingly used to facilitate new ways of delivering healthcare to improve care effectiveness and efficiency. While HSPs are a sub-type of digital platforms, traditional descriptions of market-oriented digital platform architecture focusing on their layered modular structure are not able to capture the essential features of HSPs. We propose to conduct a case study of HSP architecture aiming to assess the relevance of describing HSP architectures as series of solution patterns able to create value from the perspective of HSP stakeholders. The results of this research will extend current conceptualizations of digital platform architectures. At a practical level, they will provide a systematic approach for articulating the architecture of context-specific HSPs in a manner that can improve their portability and evolution.

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Towards the Development of a Digital Platform for Learning Health Systems Innovation

With: Agnes Grudniewicz and Antoine Sauré, Telfer School of Management

Funded by: Telfer School of Management Research Grants (SMRG) Team Grant Level 1

This project is part of an international effort aiming to transform healthcare organizations (e.g., hospitals) into learning health systems (LHSs). In LHSs, clinical and research data are rapidly and continuously transformed into new insights and practice changes that can improve clinical and operational outcomes; the results of these outcomes then feed new discoveries, creating a continuous learning cycle. The underlying vision behind LHSs stems from a lack of effectiveness, appropriateness, safety, efficiency, and value in healthcare systems. These issues are compounded by the scope and complexity of care resulting from innovations in treatments, tests, and technologies. A growing number of initiatives bringing the LHS vision to life are being reported in North America and Europe. These initiatives show significant improvements in health outcomes and cost effectiveness. However, despite these positive results, we lack the resources and tools that could support health organizations wanting to undergo a similar transformation. By addressing interrelated dimensions of LHSs such as scientific, social, and technical ones, and supporting decision-making within these dimensions, such tools could increase the chances of successful LHS implementations.

We propose to develop the conceptual and practical foundations for a novel digital platform able to support the creation and management of the learning cycles that drive LHSs. The concept of digital platform draws from that of industrial platform, which is a set of resources or components organized in a structure that enables an organization to efficiently develop and produce a variety of complementary products, services, or technologies. In digital platforms, core information technology components including devices, networks, and services enable participants to innovate through the functionalities, tools, and regulations they provide.

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An Intentional Architectural Framework for Engineering Knowledge-Intensive Service Systems

Funded by: NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), Discovery Grants Program, 2015-2019, $115 000

A knowledge-intensive service system (KISS) is a network of organizational and technological agents that rely on knowledge as a key resource to collaboratively create knowledge-intensive outputs and outcomes that are valuable to the system’s entities. Examples of KISS include networks that form around knowledge-intensive business service (KIBS) providers, open innovation initiatives, and learning health systems. Kowledge-intensive service activities are key components of industrialized economies, with the KIBS sector alone contributing over $80 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product in 2012.

Traditional service engineering methods, drawn from product engineering, have been found inadequate for this type of service because of the intense interactions among human resources, technology, and organizational factors in KISS. Service systems engineering offers a potential solution to this issue, focusing on the definition and discovery of service system entities and their dynamic relationships through time. An important challenge for the field of service systems engineering is the creation of advanced models, methods, and tools for developing service systems architectures. But despite a number of contributions in this regard, we are still lacking architectural frameworks that account for key characteristics of KISS such as collaborative relationships among entities and their reliance on knowledge.

This research project aims at addressing this gap by creating an Intentional Architectural Framework for the development of KISS Architectures (IAF-KISSA). The design and development of systems using the concepts of intentional agents, their goals, and the  strategies used by these agents to achieve their intentions has been implemented in a number of related areas such as requirements engineering; enterprise modeling; and, service-oriented computing. Since intentional modeling requires the consideration of the various viewpoints of stakeholders and their potential conflicts, it is ideally suited to eliciting the requirements of purposeful systems such as service systems.

The results of this project are important for the field of service engineering, allowing it to expand its scope to a key economic domain. On a practical level, IAF-KISSA will provide a formal approach for aligning functional aspects of KISS, such as resource planning, with business aspects, such as performance evaluation Moreover, given the importance of knowledge for all types of service systems, the results of this research could provide an innovative manner in which to engineer service systems in general.


Completed research projects

Refining and validating modeling requirements for improved value creation in KIBS engagements

Funded by: Telfer School of Management Research Fund, 2014-2015, $6000

This research seeks to refine and evaluate requirements for a modeling technique providing the ability to systematically analyse and design value creation processes in knowledge‐intensive business service (KIBS) engagements. A KIBS engagement is defined as a time‐bounded service relationship among a provider, client, and other parties that is crystallized in a specific project or contract. This work is situated in a larger effort to better understand, design, and manage service activities in order to improve their contribution to value creation and innovation in industrialized economies. Recent propositions in this body of research have identified processes that are key for collaborative value creation (or value cocreation) among these actors. However, current modeling approaches for service relationships and activities mostly focus on business‐to‐customer service exchanges such as retail services, and do not directly support the analysis and design of value cocreation processes in the context of KIBS engagements. This research thus aims to specify modeling requirements from the understanding of value cocreation processes in KIBS engagements. This is an important first step in developing an integrated modeling technique and supporting IT service for predicting, monitoring and evaluating value cocreation outcomes in KIBS and other business service contexts.

Cocreating value in knowledge-intensive business services: An empirically-grounded design framework and a modeling technique

Funded by:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Doctoral Grant, 2009-2011, $40 000
Ontario Graduate Bursaries, 2009-2010, $15 000
Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies, Doctoral Research Grant, 2008-2009, $23 333

While knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) play an important role in industrialized economies, little research has focused on how best to support their design. The emerging understanding of service as a process of value cocreation – or collaborative value creation – can provide the foundations for this purpose; however, this body of literature lacks empirically grounded explanations of how value is actually cocreated and does not provide adequate design support for the specific context of KIBS. This research thus first identifies generative mechanisms of value cocreation in KIBS engagements; it then develops a design framework from this understanding; finally, it elaborates a modeling technique fulfilling the requirements derived from this design framework.

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