Successful subspecialty referrals require considerable coordination and interactive communication among the primary care provider (PCP), the subspecialist, and the patient, which may be challenging in the outpatient setting. Even when referrals are facilitated by electronic health records (EHRs) (i.e., e-referrals), lapses in patient follow-up might occur. Although compelling reasons exist why referral coordination should be improved, little is known about which elements of the complex referral coordination process should be targeted for improvement. Using Okhuysen & Bechky's coordination framework, this paper aims to understand the barriers, facilitators, and suggestions for improving communication and coordination of EHR-based referrals in an integrated healthcare system.
We conducted a qualitative study to understand coordination breakdowns related to e-referrals in an integrated healthcare system and examined work-system factors that affect the timely receipt of subspecialty care. We conducted interviews with seven subject matter experts and six focus groups with a total of 30 PCPs and subspecialists at two tertiary care Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Using techniques from grounded theory and content analysis, we identified organizational themes that affected the referral process.
Four themes emerged: lack of an institutional referral policy, lack of standardization in certain referral procedures, ambiguity in roles and responsibilities, and inadequate resources to adapt and respond to referral requests effectively. Marked differences in PCPs' and subspecialists' communication styles and individual mental models of the referral processes likely precluded the development of a shared mental model to facilitate coordination and successful referral completion. Notably, very few barriers related to the EHR were reported.
Despite facilitating information transfer between PCPs and subspecialists, e-referrals remain prone to coordination breakdowns. Clear referral policies, well-defined roles and responsibilities for key personnel, standardized procedures and communication protocols, and adequate human resources must be in place before implementing an EHR to facilitate referrals.
Electronic referrals can improve access to subspecialty care in safety net settings. In January 2007, San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) launched an electronic referral portal that incorporated subspecialist triage, iterative communication with referring providers, and existing electronic health record data to improve access to subspecialty care.
We surveyed primary care providers (PCPs) to assess the impact of electronic referrals on workflow and clinical care.
We administered an 18-item, web-based questionnaire to all 368 PCPs who had the option of referring to SFGH.
We asked participants to rate time spent submitting a referral, guidance of workup, wait times, and change in overall clinical care compared to prior referral methods using 5-point Likert scales. We used multivariate logistic regression to identify variables associated with perceived improvement in overall clinical care.
Two hundred ninety-eight PCPs (81.0%) from 24 clinics participated. Over half (55.4%) worked at hospital-based clinics, 27.9% at county-funded community clinics, and 17.1% at non-county-funded community clinics. Most (71.9%) reported that electronic referrals had improved overall clinical care. Providers from non-county-funded clinics (AOR 0.40, 95% CI 0.14-0.79) and those who spent ≥6 min submitting an electronic referral (AOR 0.33, 95%CI 0.18-0.61) were significantly less likely than other participants to report that electronic referrals had improved clinical care.
PCPs felt electronic referrals improved health-care access and quality; those who reported a negative impact on workflow were less likely to agree. While electronic referrals hold promise as a tool to improve clinical care, their impact on workflow should be considered.
electronic referral; information technology; subspecialty care; safety net health system
New Zealand is currently implementing a standard for the electronic referral of patients from primary care to District Health Board (DHB) provided specialist services (eReferral). Medical Officers of Health working within DHB public health services receive referrals through a legally mandated disease notification system. Although laboratories have reported notifiable diseases electronically since 2007 clinical and risk factor information are still reported by fax or telephone. This paper describes a project that aims to adapt eReferral for public health purposes.
A work group of Medical Officers of Health was convened to develop criteria for priority disease selection and to develop data and functional requirements.
Eleven out of 52 notifiable diseases were selected based on potential to improve public health response and or make referral easier for medical practitioners. In addition to identifiers and demographics data requirements included: symptom onset date, occupation and place of work (or other day time location) and workplace name. The work group specified that most enteric disease eReferrals should be triggered by a positive laboratory test. Vaccine preventable disease eReferrals should occur at the time of relevant laboratory test order.
The project is at an early stage and consultation with referrers has been limited. The next stage will require working closely with referring doctors to resolve practical issues with occupation coding, to minimize practice workflow change, and to maintain consistency with other eReferral processes.
Disease Notification; Referral and Consultation; Population Surveillance; Electronic Health Records; Primary Health Care
Failed referrals for specialty care are common and often represent medical errors. Technological structures and processes account for many failures. Scheduling appointments for subspecialty evaluation is a first step in outpatient referral and consultation.
We determined whether moving from paper-based referrals to a Web-based system with automated tracking features was associated with greater scheduling of appointments among referred patients.
Staggered implementation of a quality-improvement project, with comparison of intervention and control groups.
Patients 21 or more years of age referred from any of 11 primary-care clinics to any of 25 specialty clinics.
Faxed referrals were replaced by a Web-based application shared by generalists and specialists, with enhanced communications and automated notification to the specialty office.
We compared scheduling before and after implementation and time from referral to appointment. A logistic regression analysis adjusted for demographics.
Among 40,487 referrals, 54% led to scheduled specialty visits before intervention, compared to 83% with intervention. The median time to appointment was 168 days without intervention and 78 days with intervention. Scheduling increased more when duplicate referrals were not generated (54% for single orders, 24% for multiple orders). After adjustment, referrals with the intervention were more than twice as likely to have scheduled visits.
With a new Web-based referrals system, referrals were more than twice as likely to lead to a scheduled visit. This system improves access to specialty medical services.
referral and consultation; ambulatory care; information systems
Poor communication between referring clinicians and specialists may lead to inefficient use of specialist services. San Francisco General Hospital implemented an electronic referral system (eReferral) that facilitates iterative pre-visit communication between referring and specialty clinicians to improve the referral process.
The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of eReferral (compared with paper-based referrals) on specialty referrals.
The study was based on a visit-based questionnaire appended to new patient charts at randomly selected specialist clinic sessions before and after the implementation of eReferral.
The questionnaire focused on the self-reported difficulty in identifying referral question, referral appropriateness, need for and avoidability of follow-up visits.
We collected 505 questionnaires from speciality clinicians. It was difficult to identify the reason for referral in 19.8% of medical and 38.0% of surgical visits using paper-based methods vs. 11.0% and 9.5% of those using eReferral (p-value 0.03 and <0.001). Of those using eReferral, 6.4% and 9.8% of medical and surgical referrals using paper methods vs. 2.6% and 2.1% were deemed not completely appropriate (p-value 0.21 and 0.03). Follow-up was requested for 82.4% and 76.2% of medical and surgical patients with paper-based referrals vs. 90.1% and 58.1% of eReferrals (p-value 0.06 and 0.01). Follow-up was considered avoidable for 32.4% and 44.7% of medical and surgical follow-ups with paper-based methods vs. 27.5% and 13.5% with eReferral (0.41 and <0.001).
Use of technology to promote standardized referral processes and iterative communication between referring clinicians and specialists has the potential to improve communication between primary care providers and specialists and to increase the effectiveness of specialty referrals.
access to care; communication; specialty care
The main objective of this paper is to investigate whether incorporating an electronic optional guideline tool (EOGT) in the standardized referral template used by general practitioners (GPs) when referring patients to specialized care can improve outpatient referral appropriateness.
Intervention study with an intervention and a control group.
210 GPs in the municipality of Bergen and the Department of Thoracic Medicine at Haukeland University Hospital.
2400 patients referred to the Department of Thoracic Medicine at Haukeland University Hospital.
An electronic optional guideline tool (EOGT) was implemented on 93 of 210 GPs’ computer systems. The referral quality and the time spent reviewing each referral were evaluated by the hospital specialists. The GPs did not know that their referrals were being evaluated. The specialists were blinded with regard to information concerning the intervention and the control group. The specialists reported significantly higher referral quality and considerably less time spent on evaluating referrals when using the EOGT, with an overall time reduction of 34%. Likewise, GPs also reported that the EOGT was easy to use, time-saving and led to an improved quality of their referrals.
This study documents an improvement in the quality of the referrals. Since the GPs save time by using the EOGT, there is no reason to believe that they will discontinue using it. In fact, the tool may be even more beneficial for the GP. The authors believe that it is possible to implement the EOGT as a standard referral tool within various fields of medicine and are currently in the process of developing these tools.
General practice; general practitioners; intervention studies; lung diseases; Norway; outpatients; quality improvement; referral and consultation
Health information technology and electronic medical records (EMRs) are potentially powerful systems-based interventions to facilitate diagnosis and treatment because they ensure the delivery of key new findings and other health related information to the practitioner. However, effective communication involves more than just information transfer; despite a state of the art EMR system, communication breakdowns can still occur. [1-3] In this project, we will adapt a model developed by the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) to understand and improve the relationship between work systems and processes of care involved with electronic communication in EMRs. We plan to study three communication activities in the Veterans Health Administration's (VA) EMR: electronic communication of abnormal imaging and laboratory test results via automated notifications (i.e., alerts); electronic referral requests; and provider-to-pharmacy communication via computerized provider order entry (CPOE).
Our specific aim is to propose a protocol to evaluate the systems and processes affecting outcomes of electronic communication in the computerized patient record system (related to diagnostic test results, electronic referral requests, and CPOE prescriptions) using a human factors engineering approach, and hence guide the development of interventions for work system redesign.
This research will consist of multiple qualitative methods of task analysis to identify potential sources of error related to diagnostic test result alerts, electronic referral requests, and CPOE; this will be followed by a series of focus groups to identify barriers, facilitators, and suggestions for improving the electronic communication system. Transcripts from all task analyses and focus groups will be analyzed using methods adapted from grounded theory and content analysis.
OBJECTIVE: To test feasibility and acceptability of teleconferencing routine outpatient consultations. DESIGN: Exploratory trial of teleconferenced outpatient referrals of general practitioners. SETTING: An inner city teaching hospital and surrounding general practices. SUBJECTS: Six general practices linked to hospital outpatient clinics. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Levels of participants' satisfaction measured with self administered questionnaires. RESULTS: 54 teleconsultations were performed in 10 different specialties. Few serious technical problems were encountered, and high levels of satisfaction with the consultations were reported by patients, hospital specialists, and general practitioners. CONCLUSIONS: Teleconferenced consultations for routine outpatient referrals with joint participation of general practitioner were feasible. These may have an important potential benefit for improving communication between primary and secondary care.
Inadequate follow-up of abnormal fecal occult blood test (FOBT) results occurs in several types of practice settings. Our institution implemented multifaceted quality improvement (QI) activities in 2004–2005 to improve follow-up of FOBT positive results. Activities addressed pre-colonoscopy referral processes and system-level factors such as electronic communication and provider education and feedback. We evaluated their effects on timeliness and appropriateness of positive FOBT follow-up and identified factors that affect colonoscopy performance.
Retrospective electronic medical record (EMR) review was used to determine outcomes pre- and post-QI activities in a multi-specialty ambulatory clinic of a tertiary care Veterans Affairs facility and its affiliated satellite clinics. From 1869 FOBT positive cases, 800 were randomly selected from time periods before and after QI activities. Two reviewers used a pretested standardized data collection form to determine whether colonoscopy was appropriate or indicated based on pre-determined criteria and if so, the timeliness of colonoscopy referral and performance pre- and post-QI activities.
In cases where a colonoscopy was indicated, the proportion of patients who received a timely colonoscopy referral and performance were significantly higher post implementation (60.5% vs. 31.7%, p<0.0001 and 11.4% vs. 3.4%, p =0.0005 respectively). A significant decrease also resulted in median times to referral and performance (6 vs. 19 days p<0.0001 and 96.5 vs. 190 days p<0.0001 respectively) and in the proportion of positive FOBT test results that had received no follow-up by the time of chart review (24.3%vs. 35.9%; p=0.0045). Significant predictors of absence of the performance of an indicated colonoscopy included performance of a non-colonoscopy procedure such as barium enema or flexible sigmoidoscopy (OR=16.9; 95% CI 1.9–145.1), patient non-adherence (OR=33.9; 95% CI 17.3–66.6), not providing an appropriate provisional diagnosis on the consultation (OR= 17.9; 95% CI 11.3–28.1) and gastroenterology service not rescheduling colonoscopies after an initial cancellation (OR= 11.0; 95% CI 5.1–23.7)
Multifaceted QI activities improved rates of timely colonoscopy referral and performance in an EMR system. However, colonoscopy was not indicated in over one third of patients with positive FOBTs, raising concerns about current screening practices and the appropriate denominator used for performance measurement standards related to colon cancer screening.
To present a partnership-based and community-oriented approach designed to ease provider anxiety and facilitate the implementation of electronic health records (EHR) in resource-limited primary care settings.
Materials and Methods
The approach, referred to as partnership model, was developed and iteratively refined through the research team's previous work on implementing health information technology (HIT) in over 30 safety net practices. This paper uses two case studies to illustrate how the model was applied to help two nurse-managed health centers (NMHC), a particularly vulnerable primary care setting, implement EHR and get prepared to meet the meaningful use criteria.
The strong focus of the model on continuous quality improvement led to eventual implementation success at both sites, despite difficulties encountered during the initial stages of the project.
There has been a lack of research, particularly in resource-limited primary care settings, on strategies for abating provider anxiety and preparing them to manage complex changes associated with EHR uptake. The partnership model described in this paper may provide useful insights into the work shepherded by HIT regional extension centers dedicated to supporting resource-limited communities disproportionally affected by EHR adoption barriers.
NMHC, similar to other primary care settings, are often poorly resourced, understaffed, and lack the necessary expertise to deploy EHR and integrate its use into their day-to-day practice. This study demonstrates that implementation of EHR, a prerequisite to meaningful use, can be successfully achieved in this setting, and partnership efforts extending far beyond the initial software deployment stage may be the key.
Collaborative technologies; community health care; developing/using clinical decision support (other than diagnostic) and guideline systems; electronic health records (E05.318.308.940.968.625.500); health information technology for economic and clinical health act (N03.706.615.049); human–computer interaction and human-centered computing; improving healthcare workflow and process efficiency; nurse-managed health centers; personal health records and self-care systems; qualitative/ethnographic field study; regional extension centers; social/organizational study; system implementation and management issues; systems supporting patient–provider interaction
Although screening for tobacco use is increasing with electronic health records and standard protocols, other tobacco-control activities, such as referral of patients to cessation resources, is quite low. In the QUIT-PRIMO study, an online referral portal will allow providers to enter smokers' email addresses into the system. Upon returning home, the smokers will receive automated emails providing education about tobacco cessation and encouragement to use the patient smoking cessation website (with interactive tools, educational resources, motivational email messages, secure messaging with a tobacco treatment specialist, and online support group).
The informatics system will be evaluated in a comparative effectiveness trial of 160 community-based primary care practices, cluster-randomized at the practice level. In the QUIT-PRIMO intervention, patients will be provided a paper information-prescription referral and then "e-referred" to the system. In the comparison group, patients will receive only the paper-based information-prescription referral with the website address. Once patients go to the website, they are subsequently randomized within practices to either a standard patient smoking cessation website or an augmented version with access to a tobacco treatment specialist online, motivational emails, and an online support group. We will compare intervention and control practice participation (referral rates) and patient participation (proportion referred who go to the website). We will then compare the effectiveness of the standard and augmented patient websites.
Our goal is to evaluate an integrated informatics solution to increase access to web-delivered smoking cessation support. We will analyze the impact of this integrated system in terms of process (provider e-referral and patient login) and patient outcomes (six-month smoking cessation).
Web-delivered Provider Intervention for Tobacco Control (QUIT-PRIMO) - a randomized controlled trial: NCT00797628.
Information technology can support the implementation of clinical research findings in practice settings. Technology can address the quality gap in health care by providing automated decision support to clinicians that integrates guideline knowledge with electronic patient data to present real-time, patient-specific recommendations. However, technical success in implementing decision support systems may not translate directly into system use by clinicians. Successful technology integration into clinical work settings requires explicit attention to the organizational context. We describe the application of a “sociotechnical” approach to integration of ATHENA DSS, a decision support system for the treatment of hypertension, into geographically dispersed primary care clinics. We applied an iterative technical design in response to organizational input and obtained ongoing endorsements of the project by the organization's administrative and clinical leadership. Conscious attention to organizational context at the time of development, deployment, and maintenance of the system was associated with extensive clinician use of the system.
Guidelines recommend that older people should receive multi-factorial interventions following an injurious fall however there is limited evidence that this is routine practice. We aimed to improve the delivery of evidence based care to patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) following a fall.
A prospective before and after study was undertaken in the ED of a medium-sized hospital in Perth, Western Australia. Participants comprised 313 community-dwelling patients, aged 65 years and older, presenting to ED as a result of a fall. A multi-faceted strategy to change practice was implemented and included a referral pathway, audit and feedback and additional falls specialist staff. Key measures to show improvements comprised the proportion of patients reviewed by allied health, proportion of patients referred for guideline care, quality of care index, all determined by record extraction.
Allied health staff increased the proportion of patients being reviewed from 62.7% in the before period to 89% after the intervention (P < 0.001). Before the intervention a referral for comprehensive guideline care occurred for only 6/177 (3.4%) of patients, afterwards for 28/136 (20.6%) (difference = 17.2%, 95% CI 11-23%). Average quality of care index (max score 100) increased from 18.6 (95% CI: 16.7-20.4) to 32.6 (28.6-36.6).
A multi-faceted change strategy was associated with an improvement in allied health in ED prioritizing the review of ED fallers as well as subsequent referral for comprehensive geriatric care. The processes of multi-disciplinary care also improved, indicating improved care received by the patient.
Effective communication is essential to safe and efficient patient care. Additionally, many health information technology (HIT) developments, innovations, and standards aim to implement processes to improve data quality and integrity of electronic health records (EHR) for the purpose of clinical information exchange and communication.
We aimed to understand the current patterns and perceptions of communication of common goals in the ICU using the distributed cognition and clinical communication space theoretical frameworks.
We conducted a focus group and 5 interviews with ICU clinicians and observed 59.5 hours of interdisciplinary ICU morning rounds.
Clinicians used an EHR system, which included electronic documentation and computerized provider order entry (CPOE), and paper artifacts for documentation; yet, preferred the verbal communication space as a method of information exchange because they perceived that the documentation was often not updated or efficient for information retrieval. These perceptions that the EHR is a “shift behind” may lead to a further reliance on verbal information exchange, which is a valuable clinical communication activity, yet, is subject to information loss.
Electronic documentation tools that, in real time, capture information that is currently verbally communicated may increase the effectiveness of communication.
ICU; communication; interdisciplinary; electronic health record
Community health centers (CHCs) face a unique set of challenges and can learn much from each other as they prepare for the adoption of health information technology (HIT).
This paper presents a research agenda aimed at providing information CHCs will need to successfully implement HIT.
Community health centers must be able to evaluate whether an investment in HIT is the best way to achieve improvements in health outcomes for their communities given the limited resources and high demands they face. Community health centers need better information to guide them in selecting and implementing information technology that will result in improved health quality and safety. Guidance in optimal use of the system, particularly in the effective use of data made available through electronic health records, is needed to realize health care goals. Community health centers need to be active participants in HIT developments in their communities to ensure that their patients benefit from technological advancements that improve health care.
electronic health records; health information technology; community health centers; health care quality; health care safety
OBJECTIVES--To determine the extent to which variation in rates of referral among general practitioners may be explained by inappropriate referrals and to estimate the effect of implementing referral guidelines. SETTING--Practices within Cambridge Health Authority and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Data on practice referral rates from hospital computers, inappropriate referrals as judged by hospital consultants, and inappropriate referrals as judged against referral guidelines which had been developed locally between general practitioners and specialists. Effect of referral guidelines on referral patterns as judged by general practitioners using the guidelines in clinical practice. RESULTS--There was 2.5-fold variation in referral rates among general practices. According to the specialists, 9.6% (95% confidence interval 6.4% to 12.9%) of referrals by general practitioners and 8.9% (2.6% to 15.2%) of referrals from other specialists were judged possibly or definitely inappropriate. Against locally determined referral guidelines 15.9% of referrals by general practitioners were judged possibly inappropriate (11.8% to 20.0%). Elimination of all possibly inappropriate referrals could reduce variation in practice referral rates only from 2.5-fold to 2.1-fold. An estimate of the effect of using referral guidelines for 60 common conditions in routine general practice suggested that application of guidelines would have been unlikely to reduce rates of referral in hospital (95% confidence interval -4.5% to 8.6% of consultations resulting in referral). CONCLUSION--The variation in referral rates among general practitioners in Cambridge could not be explained by inappropriate referrals. Application of referral guidelines would be unlikely to reduce the number of patients referred to hospital.
To provide a formative socio‐technical evaluation of a pilot implementation of an integrated electronic prescribing, automated dispensing, barcode patient identification and electronic medication administration record (EMAR) system on one ward.
A qualitative observational approach using discourse analysis within a socio‐technical evaluation framework addressing systems functions, human perspectives and organisational context.
Surgical ward in a teaching hospital.
Staff on study ward and in pharmacy.
Implementation over time of an integrated electronic prescribing, automated dispensing, barcode patient identification and EMAR system.
Main outcome measures
Assessment of technical performance, developed attitudes to the new system, changes to delivery of care and work practices.
The system was successfully implemented on the ward, and remained in operation for over 2 years. Many of the technical components of the system initially showed problems, but the system evolved, with increased functionality and improved performance. Attitudes to the system in the early stages were mixed. Over time, and with experience of making the system work for them, staff attitudes changed to become more balanced and the potential benefits of the system became clearer to most. The system structured the work of staff, sometimes unexpectedly.
Electronic prescribing systems need to be seen as occasions for change and learning rather than as black‐boxed technical solutions to identified problems. The evaluation framework allows understanding as well as hypothesis testing, and is recommended for future evaluations of electronic prescribing systems.
Electronic health records (EHR) enable transmission and tracking of referrals between primary-care practitioners (PCPs) and subspecialists. We used an EHR to examine follow-up actions on electronic referral communication in a large multispecialty VA facility.
We retrieved outpatient referrals to five subspecialties between October 2006 and December 2007, and queried the EHR to determine their status: completed, discontinued (returned to PCP), or unresolved (no action taken by subspecialist). All unresolved referrals, and random samples of discontinued and completed referrals were reviewed to determine whether subspecialists took follow-up actions (i.e., schedule appointments anytime in the future) within 30 days of referral-receipt. For referrals without timely follow-up, we determined whether inaction was supported by any predetermined justifiable reasons or associated with certain referral characteristics. We also reviewed if PCPs took the required action on returned information.
Of 61,931 referrals, 22,535 were discontinued (36.4%), and 474 were unresolved (0.8%). We selected 412 discontinued referrals randomly for review. Of these, 52% lacked follow-up actions within 30 days. Appropriate justifications for inaction were documented in 69.8% (150/215) of those without action and included lack of prerequisite testing by the PCP and subspecialist opinion that no intervention was required despite referral. We estimated that at 30 days, 6.3% of all referrals were associated with an unexplained lack of follow-up actions by subspecialists. Conversely, 7.4% of discontinued referrals returned to PCPs were associated with an unexplained lack of follow-up.
Although the EHR facilitates transmission of valuable information at the PCP-subspecialist interface, unexplained communication breakdowns in the referral process persist in a subset of cases.
referrals; primary care; sub-specialty care; electronic health records; patient safety; health information technology; communication; diagnostic errors; patient follow-up
The Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC) was formed to improve patient safety and quality of care by promoting the use of health information technology through community-based implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange. The Collaborative has recently implemented EHRs in a diverse set of competitively selected communities, encompassing nearly 500 physicians serving over 500,000 patients. Targeting both EHR implementation and health information exchange at the community level has identified numerous challenges and strategies for overcoming them. This article describes the formation and implementation phases of the Collaborative, focusing on barriers identified, lessons learned, and policy issues.
The purpose of this paper is to argue for an integration of cognitive and socio-technical approaches to assessing the impact of health information systems. Historically, health informatics research has examined the cognitive and socio-technical aspects of health information systems separately. In this paper we argue that evaluations of health information systems should consider aspects related to cognition as well as socio-technical aspects including impact on workflow (i.e. an integrated view). Using examples from the study of technology-induced error in healthcare, we argue for the use of simulations to evaluate the cognitive-socio-technical impacts of health information technology . Implications of clinical simulations and analysis of cognitive-social-technical impacts are discussed within the context of the system development life cycle to improve health information system design, implementation and evaluation.
Technology induced error; cognitive; sociotechnical; cognitive-socio-technical; patient safety.
Increased interest in implementing evidence-based medicine in paediatric practice has led to the development of a variety of electronic clinical and decision-making support tools. Electronic medical records and information resources have the potential to improve both the clinical and cost effectiveness of paediatric community practice at the point of care. Barriers to the successful implementation of clinical information Intranet resources include physician attitudes, as well as system and practitioner capabilities.
To examine Ontario’s community care paediatricians’ electronic information resource needs and interest in accessing the proposed Central West Ontario Pediatric Information Network (CWPIN).
Cross-sectional, interviewer-facilitated, structured survey.
Paediatricians providing community care in the Central West Ontario Health Region.
Three-quarters of regional community paediatricians responded to the survey. Of those surveyed, 98% expressed interest in gaining access to the CWPIN. Computer literacy, suggested by home computer and Internet use rates (88% and 81%, respectively), did not differ significantly by age or sex. Other factors that may affect network use, such as workplace computer use and allied personnel role assignment, differed by sex, indicating potentially greater CWPIN use among male practitioners.
Physicians reported an overwhelming interest in gaining access to and using the CWPIN. Disparities in current workplace but not home-based computer use by sex indicate that workplace role allocation, rather than computer literacy, may explain sex differences in CWPIN use rates. Attitudinal and computer proficiency issues did not appear to be obstacles to implementing the clinical information Intranet resource in the region.
Clinical information network; Intranet; Paediatrics; Utilization rates
Primary care physicians (PCPs) care for the majority of non-dialysis-dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Studies suggest that PCPs may deliver suboptimal CKD care. One means to improve PCP treatment of CKD is clinical decision support systems (CDSS).
Cluster randomized controlled trial
Setting & Participants
Thirty PCPs in a university-based outpatient general internal medicine practice and their 248 moderate to advanced CKD patients who had not been referred to a nephrologist.
Two CKD educational sessions were held for PCPs in both arms. The 15 intervention arm PCPs also received real-time automated electronic medical record alerts for patients with estimated glomerular filtration rates < 45 ml/min/1.73m2 recommending renal referral and urine albumin quantification if not done within the prior year.
Primary outcome was referral to a nephrologist; secondary outcomes were albuminuria/proteinuria assessment, CKD documentation, optimal blood pressure (i.e., < 130/80), and use of renoprotective medications.
The intervention and control arms did not differ in renal referrals (9.7% vs. 16.5%, respectively; between group difference, −6.8% (95% CI, −15.5% to 1.8%; P=0.1)) or proteinuria assessments (39.3% vs. 30.1%, respectively; between group difference, 9.2% (95% CI, −2.7% to 21.1%; P=0.1)). Among intervention and control group patients without a baseline proteinuria assessment, 27.7% versus 16.3%, respectively had one at follow-up (P=0.06). After controlling for clustering, these findings were largely unchanged and no significant differences were apparent between the groups.
Small single-center university based practice, use of a passive CDSS that required PCPs to trigger the electronic order set.
PCPs were willing to partake in a randomized trial of CDSS to improve outpatient CKD care. While CDSS may possess potential, larger studies are needed to further explore how best to deploy them to enhance CKD care.
Chronic Kidney Disease; Primary Care Physician; Nephrologist; Quality of Care; Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate; Renal Referral
Western health care is under pressure from growing demands on quality and efficiency. The development and implementation of information technology, IT is a key mean of health care authorities to improve on health care infrastructure.
Theory and methods
Against a background of theories on human-computer interaction and IT-mediated communication, different empirical studies of IT implementation in health care are analyzed. The outcome is an analytical discernment between different relations of communication and levels of interaction with IT in health care infrastructure. These relations and levels are synthesized into a framework for identifying tensions and potential problems in the mediation of health care with the IT system. These problems are also known as unexpected adverse consequences, UACs, from IT implementation into clinical health care practices.
This paper develops a conceptual framework for addressing transformations of communication and workflow in health care as a result of implementing IT.
Conclusion and discussion
The purpose of the conceptual framework is to support the attention to and continuous screening for errors and unintended consequences of IT implementation into health care practices and outcomes.
human-computer interaction; socio-technical; infrastructure; communication; information technology
Electronic referral (eReferral) from community into public secondary healthcare services was introduced to 30 referring general medical practices and 28 hospital based services in late 2007.
To measure the extent of uptake of eReferral and its association with changes in referral processing.
Analysis of transactional data from the eReferral message service and the patient information management system of the affected hospital; interview of clinical, operational and management stakeholders.
eReferral use rose steadily to 1000 transactions per month in 2008, thereafter showing moderate growth to 1200 per month in 2010. Rate of eReferral from the community in 2010 is estimated at 56% of total referrals to the hospital from general practice, and as 71% of referrals from those having done at least one referral electronically. Referral latency from letter date to hospital triage improves significantly from 2007 to 2009 (p<0.001), from a paper referral median of 8 days (inter-quartile range, IQR: 4–14) in 2007 to an eReferral median of 5 days (IQR: 2–9) and paper referral median of 6 days (IQR: 2–12) in 2009. Specialists upgrade the referrer-assigned eReferral priority in 19.2% of cases and downgrade it 18.6% of the time. Clinical users appreciate improvement of referral visibility (status and content access); however, both general practitioners and specialists point out system usability issues.
With eReferrals, a referral’s status can be checked, and its content read, by any authorized user at any time. The period of eReferral uptake was associated with significant speed-up in referral processing without changes in staffing levels. The eReferral system provides a foundation for further innovation in the community-secondary interface, such as electronic decision support and shared care planning systems.
We observed substantial rapid voluntary uptake of eReferrals associated with faster, more reliable and more transparent referral processing.
User acceptance and resistance; provider-provider communications; process improvement
The Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) cluster randomised controlled trial tested the effectiveness of a training and support intervention to improve the response of primary care to women experiencing domestic violence (DV). The aim of this study is to estimate the cost-effectiveness of this intervention.
Markov model-based cost-effectiveness analysis.
General practices in two urban areas in the UK.
Simulated female individuals from the general UK population who were registered at general practices, aged 16 years and older.
General practices received staff training, prompts to ask women about DV embedded in the electronic medical record, a care pathway including referral to a specialist DV agency and continuing contact from that agency. The trial compared the rate of referrals of women with specialist DV agencies from 24 general practices that received the IRIS programme with 24 general practices not receiving the programme. The trial did not measure outcomes for women beyond the intermediate outcome of referral to specialist agencies. The Markov model extrapolated the trial results to estimate the long-term healthcare and societal costs and benefits using data from other trials and epidemiological studies.
The intervention would produce societal cost savings per woman registered in the general practice of UK£37 (95% CI £178 saved to a cost of £136) over 1 year. The incremental quality-adjusted life-year was estimated to be 0.0010 (95% CI −0.0157 to 0.0101) per woman. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis found 78% of model replications under a willingness to pay threshold of £20 000 per quality-adjusted life-year.
The IRIS programme is likely to be cost-effective and possibly cost saving from a societal perspective. Better data on the trajectory of abuse and the effect of advocacy are needed for a more robust model.
Current Controlled Trials, ISRCTN74012786.
The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of the IRIS training and support intervention for primary care clinicians from the UK societal and NHS perspectives.
The intervention is likely to be cost saving from a societal perspective with a high likelihood of being under a £20 000 per quality-adjusted life-year willingness to pay threshold.
Strengths and limitations of this study
We have minimised bias in estimating the effect size of the IRIS programme by basing it on a randomised controlled trial.
By using epidemiological and cost data external to the trial, we were able to extrapolate from directly measured trial outcomes (DV disclosure and referral rates) to quality of life, health and economic outcomes.
The uncertainty of the transition probabilities based on assumptions was addressed by probabilistic sensitivity analysis, contributing to the robustness of the model.
Important limitations of that data are the paucity of longitudinal studies measuring the trajectory of abuse and uncertainty about the effect of DV advocacy for women not living in a refuge or shelter.