Objective: To analyze the rates and influences on the adoption of three selected health technologies: statins, coronary stents, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).Methods:A retrospective diffusion study using primary care prescribing data and questionnaire responses from acute hospital trusts in the West Midlands region (population 5.3 million or 10% of England).
Results: The selected technologies had markedly different diffusion curves. Statins diffused rapidly soon after launch. Coronary stents were initially used 6 years after first availability, but within 2 years all responding hospitals reported using them. MRI scanners were initially purchased 6 years after first availability with a subsequently slow rate of diffusion, and are still absent from some hospitals. Influences on the adoption of each technology were different. Commercial marketing was reported as a major influence on the diffusion of statins but not at all on MRIs. Cost impact was a major negative influence on the diffusion of MRI scanners and statins, whereas enthusiastic individuals were key to the diffusion of stents.
Conclusions: Influences on adoption and consequent diffusion rates are very different for different health technologies. It is not at all clear that such diffusion patterns relate well to an optimum timing rate. This has important implications for technology gatekeepers in health care.
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