The importance of the social sciences for medical informatics is increasingly recognized. As ICT requires inter-action with people and thereby inevitably affects them, understanding ICT requires a focus on the interrelation between technology and its social environment. Sociotechnical approaches increase our understanding of how ICT applications are developed, introduced and become a part of social practices. Socio-technical approaches share several starting points: 1) they see health care work as a social, 'real life' phenomenon, which may seem 'messy' at first, but which is guided by a practical rationality that can only be overlooked at a high price (i.e. failed systems). 2) They see technological innovation as a social process, in which organizations are deeply affected. 3) Through in-depth, formative evaluation, they can help improve system design and implementation.