Special Issue "Implementing New Technologies in a Context of Complexity to Improve Health and Healthcare Service"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Care Sciences & Services".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Karen Gardner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Public Service Research Group, School of Business, The University of New South Wales Canberra, Canberra BC 2610, Australia
Interests: primary health care; primary care policy; performance management, Continuous quality improvement; complex evaluation; evaluation theory; implementation; systems thinking
Prof. Dr. Deborah Blackman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Public Service Research Group, School of Business, The University of New South Wales Canberra, Canberra BC 2610, Australia
Interests: public sector productivity; management; public services management
Dr. Sue Olney
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
Interests: market-based reform of public services with particular focus on welfare-to-work and disability services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Innovation in technology is seen as an important means through which governments can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health and social care. During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a rapid and unprecedented scaling up of technology in healthcare. For example, the adoption of digital health has reformed patient-facing services across the world, as well as the communications and educational initiatives that support it. In some cases, this has occurred within periods of mere weeks, and at the same time, a decrease in the number of patient no-shows has been observed [1].

Prior to 2020 however, new technologies, care pathways and service models designed to transform care rarely achieved widespread uptake, even where there was sound evidence of benefit [2]. Researchers argued that implementation tended to retain linear and mechanistic assumptions about change processes, paying little attention to the human tasks of adapting to shifting roles and professional norms and the need for technologies themselves to adapt to specific contexts of use [2,3]. Such proponents have argued that a fundamental rethink is needed when it comes to the way innovation is conceptualized and implementation is researched. Rather than conceptualizing innovation as an entity to be added into an organization and subsequently scaled up in other contexts, research should address the ecological aspects of change processes within place, and emphasize complexity and the emergent nature of innovation, as people, objects and systems interact and adapt to local circumstances.

The response of the health and social care sector to the adoption of new technology during the COVID-19 pandemic raises significant questions regarding this inside/out analysis and how to carry forward this “can-do” attitude to reforms, post-pandemic. Telehealth and other innovations will transform care delivery around the world and require a new digitally enabled health workforce and patient education to go with it [4]. How can this impetus for change be created and sustained from within? What can we learn from complexity approaches about change processes and the extent to which emergence and outside pressure can co-exist in creating new, more responsive approaches to the use of technologies in patient care?

The panel seeks papers concerned with technology implementation challenges in complex environments at service, cross-jurisdictional, national or local government levels such as digital services. Papers are particularly sought that address:

  • examples and case studies of successful technological implementation in complex systems;
  • new skills and/or capabilities required to support sustainable technological implementation in complex environments;
  • the strategic environment in which practitioners operate and the relationships they develop to deliver complex innovation;
  • experiences in complex technological innovation implementation and lessons learned along the way;
  • novel methods for studying implementation of technologies within complex systems;
  • the use of data to support complex implementation;
  • technology’s role and impact as a lever for change in health and social care systems.


  1. Dooley M. Building on innovation and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. J. Pharm. Pract. Res. 2020, 5, 373–376.
  2. Greenhalgh, T.; Papoutsi, C. Spreading and scaling up innovation and improvement. BMJ 2019, 365, l2068.
  3. Braithwaite, J.; Churruca, K.; Long, J.; Ellis, L.; Herkes, J. When complexity science meets implementation science: A theoretical and empirical analysis of systems change. BMC Med. 2018, 16, 63.
  4. Duckett, S.; Brooks, P.; Older, B. The Pandemic has Given Us a Chance to Reimagine Healthcare. Available online: https://grattan.edu.au/news/the-pandemic-has-given-us-a-chance-to-reimagine-healthcare/ (accessed on 4 March 2021).

Dr. Karen Gardner
Prof. Dr. Deborah Blackman
Dr. Sue Olney
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • innovation
  • complexity
  • systems thinking
  • implementation
  • technology

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Implemented New Technologies within the Complexity of Medical Rehabilitations: Improvement of Mental Health and Synergetic Outcomes with Healthcare Service Effects
Authors: Franziska Maria Keller, Sonia Lippke and et al.
Affiliations: Department of Psychology and Methods, Jacobs University Bremen, 28759 Bremen, Germany; et al.

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