How to Implement Digital Services in a Way That They Integrate Into Routine Work: Qualitative Interview Study Among Health and Social Care Professionals

Janna Nadav*, Anu Marja Kaihlanen, Sari Kujala, Elina Laukka, Pirjo Hilama, Juha Koivisto, Ilmo Keskimäki, Tarja Heponiemi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Although the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly boosted the implementation of digital services worldwide, it has become increasingly important to understand how these solutions are integrated into professionals’ routine work. Professionals who are using the services are key influencers in the success of implementations. To ensure successful implementations, it is important to understand the multiprofessional perspective, especially because implementations are likely to increase even more.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine health and social care professionals’ experiences of digital service implementations and to identify factors that support successful implementations and should be considered in the future to ensure that the services are integrated into professionals’ routine work.

Methods: A qualitative approach was used, in which 8 focus group interviews were conducted with 30 health and social care professionals from 4 different health centers in Finland. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The resulting categories were organized under the components of normalization process theory.

Results: Our results suggested 14 practices that should be considered when implementing new digital services into routine work. To get professionals to understand and make sense of the new service, (1) the communication related to the implementation should be comprehensive and continuous and (2) the implementation process should be consistent. (3) A justification for the service being implemented should also be given. The best way to engage the professionals with the service is (4) to give them opportunities to influence and (5) to make sure that they have a positive attitude toward the service. To enact the new service into professionals’ routine work, it is important that (6) the organization take a supportive approach by providing support from several easy and efficient sources. The professionals should also have (7) enough time to become familiar with the service, and they should have (8) enough know-how about the service. The training should be (9) targeted individually according to skills and work tasks, and (10) it should be diverse. The impact of the implementation on the professionals’ work should be evaluated. The service (11) should be easy to use, and (12) usage monitoring should happen. An opportunity (13) to give feedback on the service should also be offered. Moreover, (14) the service should support professionals’ work tasks.

Conclusions: We introduce 14 practices for organizations and service providers on how to ensure sustainable implementation of new digital services and the smooth integration into routine work. It is important to pay more attention to comprehensive and continuing communication. Organizations should conduct a competence assessment before training in order to ensure proper alignment. Follow-ups to the implementation process should be performed to guarantee sustainability of the service. Our findings from a forerunner country of digitalization can be useful for countries that are beginning their service digitalization or further developing their digital services.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31668
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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