Implementing artificial intelligence in South African public hospitals: A conceptual framework

Sanele E. Nene, Lia M. Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orientation: Artificial intelligence (AI) is stimulating the generation of knowledge and innovations in healthcare by making machines smart through algorithms to nurture learning and improve resilience in global health systems. Despite these potential benefits, operations managers in a South African public hospital continue to favour manual systems over existing AI technologies within their units. Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework to facilitate the implementation of AI in a public hospital in South Africa. Motivation for the study: A gap was identified, highlighting the need for a conceptual framework that facilitates the successful implementation of AI in a public hospital. The aim is to ensure that operational managers fully embrace the benefits of AI, thereby improving the healthcare system. Research design, approach and method: A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research design with a phenomenological research approach was adopted. Five phases were followed to develop a conceptual framework. Twelve individual interviews and two focus group interviews were conducted to collect data. Thematic data analysis was applied to extract and identify significant themes. Main findings: Three themes were identified: positive experiences related to AI, management and leadership processes in AI facilitation and challenges related to AI. These themes served as the foundation for the development of a conceptual framework. Practical/managerial implications: There is ambivalence in embracing AI in the units of this public hospital, and it will be addressed by this conceptual framework. Contribution/value-add: The proposed conceptual framework is designed to enable the operational managers in facilitating the implementation of AI in a public hospital setting. It serves as a valuable resource to promote the integration of AI technology in healthcare operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera1173
JournalActa Commercii
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial intelligence
  • conceptual framework
  • facilitation
  • implementation
  • public hospital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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