Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Matthew T. Mullarkey, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Timothy M. Papp, DBA

Committee Member

Alan R. Hevner,, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jung C. Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles Arant, DBA


Mobile applications, Assimilation gaps, Design Science Research (DSR), Elaborated Action Design Research (EADR), Multi-level assimilation gaps, Consumer platforms


Rural communities are often overlooked when it comes to offering cutting edge consumer healthcare technologies. Mobile applications usually exclude populations in rural demographics due to the infrastructure requirements and available technology in the region. The population studied is a low income rural health plan in southwest Georgia. They are uniquely considered as they have the highest healthcare costs in the U.S. and are compared to healthcare costs among higher income populations like Vail, Colorado. Innovations, such as mobile healthcare applications, have the capacity to offset some of these costs, but even if adoption occurs, this does not guarantee use will naturally follow. This study explores the creation and development of a mobile healthcare application (i.e., the platform) and measurement of the assimilation gap in the use of the adopted platform. The platform was designed to simplify the access to use opportunities between consumers and providers of care with the long-term goal of reducing healthcare costs. The use opportunities measured in this platform are telemedicine visits and electronic appointment setting.

This research presents a process for influencing assimilation gaps in healthcare platforms. Measurement techniques for successful healthcare platform programs are constrained due to data limitations. Building on existing assimilation gap research and designing artifacts that include nudging techniques, this study identifies concepts that display assimilation gap narrowing methods that improve healthcare platform design. Using elaborated action design research (EADR), each artifact design cycle follows a process map to improve adoption and use. The research discovers how adoptable a healthcare platform (CareValet) is within a rural population, which strategies most promote adoption, and what strategies might best support use improvement. In this study, platform adoption is compared as the relative value against each use metric for key stakeholders including consumers (e.g., health plan members), clients (e.g., employer or health plan), and platform developers. Research contributions include the development of assimilation gap narrowing methods and return on investment (ROI) value graphing tools associated with platform use.