University of Oulu

Kaihlanen, AM., Laukka, E., Nadav, J. et al. The effects of digitalisation on health and social care work: a qualitative descriptive study of the perceptions of professionals and managers. BMC Health Serv Res 23, 714 (2023).

The effects of digitalisation on health and social care work : a qualitative descriptive study of the perceptions of professionals and managers

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Author: Kaihlanen, Anu-Marja1; Laukka, Elina2; Nadav, Janna1;
Organizations: 1Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, 00271, Helsinki, Finland
2Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, University of Oulu, 90230, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Health and Social Management, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-25


Background: Today, digitalisation is strongly present in health and social care, and it increasingly affects the organisation of work, work requirements, tasks and tools. Due to the constant change in work, up-to-date knowledge is needed about these micro-level effects of digitalisation and how professionals experience the effects in their work. Furthermore, even though managers play a key role in implementing new digital services, their perceptions of the effects of digitalisation and whether they match the views of professionals remain unknown. This study examined how health and social care professionals and managers perceive the effects of digitalisation on the work of professionals.

Methods: We used a qualitative approach and conducted eight semi-structured focus group interviews with health and social care professionals (n = 30) and 21 individual interviews with managers in 2020 in four health centres in Finland. The qualitative content analysis included both an inductive and a deductive approach.

Results: Digitalisation was perceived to have changed professionals’ 1) workload and pace, 2) the field and nature of work, 3) work community communication and interaction, and 4) information flow and security. Both professionals and managers identified effects such as accelerated work, reduction in workload, constant learning of technical skills, complicated work due to vulnerable information systems, and reduction in face-to-face encounters. However, managers did not bring up all the effects that professionals considered important, such as the creation of new work tasks, increased and duplicated work, or insufficient time to get acquainted with the systems.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that some of the effects of digitalisation on professionals’ work and changes in the workplace may receive too little or no recognition from managers. This increases the risk that the potential negative effects may be overlooked and that managers will adopt systems that do not support the work of professionals. To reach a common understanding of the effects of digitalisation, continuous discussions between employees and different management levels are required. This contributes to professionals’ well-being and adaptation to changes, as well as the provision of quality health and social services.

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Series: BMC health services research
ISSN: 1472-6963
ISSN-E: 1472-6963
ISSN-L: 1472-6963
Volume: 23
Issue: 1
Article number: 714
DOI: 10.1186/s12913-023-09730-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 316 Nursing
Funding: Open Access funding provided by Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). This work was funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland (project 327145).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.