Doing Field Research on Information Infrastructures - The National Medication Registry in Denmark

SWS & Credits

This course is a research oriented seminar. (SWS 3)
CP (Credit Points): 10


Bachelor of Business Administration, advanced (preferably fourth semester) Seminar


Course description

In a recent paper (Reimers and Luo 2023), we have predicted, based on the theory of collective goods, that the joint updating and checking of medication plans by involved healthcare professionals (physicians, pharmacists, nurses) requires joint practices and is therefore unlikely to function at a national scale. However, Denmark has supposedly implemented a nation-wide electronic medication plan some years ago (Kildemoes et al. 2011; Hostenkamp 2017). This research seminar will probe our hypothesis by studying the Danish medication plan. For this purpose, three or four case studies — one per team — will be conducted in Denmark on how the medication plan is maintained and updated at the local level. Three or four different sites will be selected for this purpose (one of the 18 national clinic complexes (so-called ‘super hospitals’), an urban area, a city). The hypothesis is that we will find local communities who have developed joint practices of maintaining medication plans, which may vary across sites (so-called Communities of Practice, see Wenger 2002). This topic is relevant as medication increasingly becomes a risk factor itself due to unrecognized harmful interactions between drugs, double prescribing and failure to un-prescribe drugs no longer needed. In Germany, there is currently a debate on how to best implement a nation-wide electronic medication plan. It is expected that the findings of this research seminar will have a bearing on the debate in Germany. The findings of this seminars will be used as input for a research paper. In practical terms, the course will first focus on required techniques for conducting case study research, based on Robert Yin's textbook (Yin 2014). In parallel, and as an opportunity for immediate practical application of these techniques, students will study the Danish healthcare system and its approach towards digitalization. This phase of the course work will end with the presentation of the research design of each of the three or four teams. The next phase is then concerned with data collection, initially based on desktop research. During the excursion week, all participants will then conduct face-to-face interviews with relevant persons in Denmark. Depending on the chosen research sites, all teams may stay in one city during this time or spread out across the country. Subsequently, participants will work on their final report and, for this purpose, continuously discuss upcoming issues in the regular meetings. The final presentation is also a last opportunity to receive input into writing the report.

Please note, that the excursion to Denmark during the Excursion week (May, 29th - Jun. 2nd) is a mandatory part of this course!


Hostenkamp, G. 2017. “Die Einführung des elektronischen Medikationsplans: Was Deutschland von Dänemark lernen kann,” Gesundheitsökonomie & Qualitätsmanagement (22:01), pp. 54-60 (doi: 10.1055/s-0042-113151).

Kildemoes, H. W., Sørensen, H. T., and Hallas, J. 2011. “The Danish National Prescription Registry,” Scandinavian Journal of Public Health (39:7 Suppl), pp. 38-41 (doi: 10.1177/1403494810394717).

Reimers, K., and Luo, Y. 2023. “On the Economic Nature of Medical Information: Implications for the Development of Information Infrastructures in the Healthcare Sector,” in Proceedings of the 56th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 3-6, 2023, pp. 2809-2817. (available online at: https://hdl.handle.net/10125/102977

Wenger, E. 2002. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Yin, R. K. 2014. Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Los Angeles et al.: Sage.


Learning Objectives

Participants will learn to appreciate the specific research challenges associated with studying information infrastructure and to address these challenges effectively.


Course Dates



Regular meetings: Tuesday, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.; meetings may be shorter, especially in the later stages, depending on the number of issues to be addressed.


April 4: Kick-off

April 11: Case Study Research, Chapter 1

April 18: Case Study Research, Chapter 2

April 24: Case Study Research, Chapter 3

May 2: Case Study Research, Chapter 4

May 9: Case Study Research, Chapter 5; presentation of research design (first exam)

May 16: Discussion of findings of desktop research, preparation of excursion

May 23: Discussion of findings of desktop research, preparation of excursion

May 29 – June 3: Excursion; in-person interviews in Denmark

June 13: Discussion of findings of in-person interviews

June 20: Presentation of report outline

June 27: Discussion of findings and report writing problems

July 4: Discussion of findings and report writing problems

July 11: Presentation of findings (exam)

July 25: Final report due

Learning Portal RWTHmoodle

Course material will be made available on RWTHmoodle. You will have to register for this lecture in RWTHonline to access course material on RWTHmoodle