Transforming Healthcare through Digitalization: The Persistent Conflict of Changing for Good

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Grand challenges bring about disruptions (Schad & Smith, 2019). Change can be disruptive and necessitates awareness of the ways in which actors construct and respond to the tensions arising within societal transformation (Hahn & Knight, 2019). The construction of and response to grand challenges that transform society require cooperation across and within organizations that have competing objectives and may have unintended consequences for other actors (Jarzabkowski et al., 2019). The grand challenge of digital transformation in the healthcare system is a particularly salient context for exploring systemic paradoxical tensions (Hahn & Knight, 2019), because pharmaceutical companies struggle in managing competing objectives requiring interdependent action. This is not least the case in the context of a global pandemic, which forced the pharmaceutical industry to explore opportunities for exploiting the existing business through digitalization, The whole situation about covid-19 makes us extremely relevant. It also means that we expect to accelerate the broader appeal of our methods. Simply because you now see for yourself, there is a need to do things smarter when a patient cannot just go to her doctor, but can do it from home. (MedWatch, 29 April 2020)1 In Denmark, the global pandemic forced a pharmaceutical company (PharmaCo) to explore the ways in which the pharmaceutical could integrate procedures for conducting clinical trials with the processes for developing imaging solutions in the innovation lab (MedTech). While mainstream media focused on the relevance of virtual clinical trials for the interaction between doctors and patients, the sudden interest in digitalization from PharmaCo took MedTech by surprise. Within days, MedTech had to restructure the organization to assemble a team of people from both the medical and technological parts of the innovation lab that would work on the project for PharmaCo. Within weeks, the project team delivered a solution, which built on the foundation of two flagship products that MedTech failed at integrating with PharmaCo in the past. This paper is about the integrative work that took place between MedTech and PharmaCo prior to covid-19.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event36th EGOS Colloquium 2020: Organizing for a Sustainable Future: Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance - Virtual Conference, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 2 Jul 20204 Jul 2020
Conference number: 36


Conference36th EGOS Colloquium 2020
LocationVirtual Conference
Internet address


  • Digitalization
  • Healthcare
  • Ambidexterity
  • Latent tensions
  • Integration

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