The ASSIST framework helps project leaders, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in answering two questions crucial during the early stages of creating a viable e-service:

  • Is it worth going ahead with the project, and daring the step to routine service provision?
  • What needs to be changed in order to succeed in going ahead?

The framework can be said to have two key features: One is an objective, impartial assessment of the impact and potential of a service. The other is a meaningful comparison of future potential between different options. These two features give evidence-based support to if and, more importantly, how to proceed with routine operation and how to modify the planned service to render it (more) successful.

Value for whom?

The theoretical foundation of the ASSIST methodology is value theory, and in particular, the concept of value added. In the context of an ASSIST assessment, the effects and outcomes of a service is understood as value-added to society, either in part or as a whole, on the one hand and value-added to the individual stakeholders involved on the other, by implementing and using the service.This combines an overall, societal perspective with an organizational and individual perspective. This societal perspective includes all stakeholders and aggregates their respective gains and losses, or benefits and costs. Positive effects, or benefits, create value, negative effects, or costs, occur when value is reduced. The total value added is the sum of positive and negative ‘value added’. This societal perspective is aggregated from the benefits and costs of each stakeholder group. Furthermore, what may be a benefit to one group may be a cost to another group, and in the aggregate some of them may cancel out. The analysis must expose these shifts in value in order to provide a reasonable account of the impact of the new service on individual stakeholders as well as society as a whole.

Cost-benefit analysis

Cost benefit analysis (CBA) is the approach for turning these theoretical foundations into a pragmatic evaluation tool. CBA is an appropriate tool for analysing the impact of investments and activities in domains of public interest. CBA enables the impacts on all stakeholders to be included in a socio-economic evaluation, over the selected timescales, and the identification of the narrower financial components within the costs and benefits, also for individual stakeholder groups.

For a more detailed description of the theoretical foundations of ASSIST in a telemedicine application context, we recommend reading the ASSIST – Telemedicine assessment framework.

More information can furthermore be found in: HAMMERSCHMIDT, R. & MEYER, I. 2014. Socio-economic impact assessment and business models for integrated eCare. In: MEYER, I., MÜLLER, S. & KUBITSCHKE, L. (eds.) Achieving Effective Integrated E-Care Beyond the Silos. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.