Understanding Perspectives of Risk Awareness




Park, Byunguk Randon

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Research in risk awareness has been relatively neglected in the health informatics literature, which tends largely to examine project managers’ perspectives of risk awareness; very few studies explicitly address the perspectives held by senior executives such as directors. Another limitation evident in the current risk literature is that studies are often based on American data and/or they are restricted to American culture. Both factors highlight the need to examine how senior executives (i.e., directors) who oversee or direct eHealth projects in Canada perceive risk awareness. This research explores and discusses the perspectives of risk awareness (i.e., identification, analysis, and prioritization) held by directors and project managers who implement Canadian eHealth projects. Semi-structured interviews with nine directors and project managers uncovered six key distinctions in these two groups’ awareness of risk. First, all project managers valued transparency over anonymity, whereas directors believed that an anonymous reporting system for communicating risks had merit. Secondly, most directors emphasized the importance of evidence-based planning and decision making when balancing risks and opportunities, an aspect none of the project managers voiced. Thirdly, while project managers noted that the level of risk tolerance may evolve from being risk-averse to risk-neutral, directors believed that risk tolerance evolved toward risk-seeking. Directors also noted the importance of employing risk officers, a view that was not shared by project managers. Directors also believed the risk of too little end-user engagement and change management was the most important risk, whereas project managers ranked it as the least important. Finally, when directors and project managers were asked to identify and define the root cause(s) of eHealth risks, directors identified the complexity of health care industry, while project managers attributed it to political pressure and a lack of resources where eHealth projects are concerned. This research proposes that the varied perspectives of risk awareness held by directors and project managers must be considered and integrated to properly align expectations and build partnerships for successful eHealth project outcomes. Understanding risk awareness offers a means to systematically identify and analyze the complex nature of eHealth projects by embracing uncertainties, thereby enabling forward thinking (i.e., staying one step ahead of risks) and the ability to prevent avoidable risks and seize opportunities.



Health Informatics, Risk Management, Risk Awareness, Canadian Perspective, Project Manager, Director, Risk Identification, Risk Analysis, Risk Prioritization, Project Risk, Risk Tolerance, Risk Ranking Rationale, Risk Root Cause, Risk Framework, Risk Communication, Clinical Information Systems, Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records, Risk Decision Making, Definitions and Benefits, Tools and Deliverables, Risk Manager, Risk Officer, Risk Owner, eHealth Risk Factor, Risk Dependency and Relationship, Uncertainty, Shared Responsibility, Collective Decision Making, Evidence-Based Decision Making