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Thesis Defense - Hani Safadi, McGill University


Bronfman Building Room 045, 1001 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 1G5, CA

Mr. Hani Safadi, a doctoral student at McGill University in the area of Information Systems will be defending his thesis titled:

Knowledge Creation in Health IT Online Communities 

Hani Safadi
Doctoral student in Information Systems, McGill University

Date: September 5, 2014 
1:15 pm - 3:15 pm 
Location: Room 045, Bronfman Building


Research on knowledge and digital production in Communities of Innovation is still in its early stages. The most sustained research has focused on open-source software development as it has emerged as a serious competitor to the traditional proprietary software. The Linux operating system, the Apache web server, and the Firefox browser are all successful open-source products that achieved wide commercial success over their proprietary competitors. It has been argued that open-source software combines aspects of private investment and common action production models. This new combination requires fundamental revisions to theories of innovation. With the overall objective of gaining a deeper understanding of open innovation in healthcare, this research focuses on how online communities focused on innovation create, share, and evolve knowledge artifacts.

Specifically, I explore the development, evolution, and knowledge creation in a Community of Innovation centered on an open-source Electronic Medical Record (EMR) named OSCAR. This community is primarily Canadian, has been in existence for a decade, and has developed an EMR that is rapidly diffusing (currently used by over 1,500 Canadian doctors to follow over a million patients). The OSCAR EMR is freely available open-source software and is gaining market share against commercial products typically costing $25,000 per year. Given the complexity of such software, the mission-critical nature of patient records for solving Canadian and world health issues, and the fact that the vast majority of users (family doctors) are not computer savvy, this success is unusual and significant. Contrary to other open-source projects, this software is embedded in a community of doctors rather than a community of programmers. The community is active both face to face via user meetings and online via discussion forums.

Focusing on knowledge creation and software evolution, I take on three interrelated studies of this healthcare community of innovation to answer the following research questions: (1) How is collaboration among members in online communities structured and how does it lead to knowledge contribution in the community? (1) What determines individual members’ contributions in the community? (2) How does the community integrate individual contributions into the digital artifact? (3) How does the community grow and evolve overtime creating and sustaining its collaborative structure? Taken together, the studies contribute theoretically by exploring the knowledge exchanges and innovation dynamics in a community of innovation that involves diverse groups of participants (e.g., doctors, programmers, nurses, administrators). They will also help shed light on an important class of innovation communities, one where Canada is a leader and where the innovation outcomes are helping computerize healthcare in Canada.