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1.  Imperfect Implementation of an Early Warning Scoring System in a Danish Teaching Hospital: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70068.
Background
In 2007, the initiation of a patient safety campaign led to the introduction of Ward Observational Charts (WOC) and Medical Early Warning Score (MEWS) at Naestved Regional Hospital. This included systematic measuring of vital signs of all patients in order to prevent patient deterioration and assure timely and correct initiation of treatment. The aim of this study was to assess to what degree WOC guidelines being followed by ward staff.
Design and Setting
A 7-day prospective, observational, randomised, cross-sectional, point prevalence study of WOC guideline compliance in hospitalised patients on twelve wards at Naestved Hospital.
Results
The study included 132 patients. Of these, 58% had been observed and managed correctly according to WOC guidelines. 77% had all MEWS elements recorded by staff. One patient had no MEWS elements recorded. Only 38% of patients with abnormal MEWS were correctly escalated by nursing staff. Staff was aware of the abnormal MEWS observed by investigator in 60% of the patients. Each element of WOC was on average recorded by staff in 90% of the patients.
Conclusion
At the time of our study, the long-term implementation of WOC guidelines has not been completed satisfactorily. The lacking component in the implementation of MEWS and WOC is the documentation of action taken upon finding an abnormal value. Unsuccessful implementation could result in incorrect results from evaluation of an early warning system. We suggest a redesign of the training programme to educate staff in recognising and caring for critically ill patients at Naestved Hospital.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070068
PMCID: PMC3724921  PMID: 23922906
2.  Experiences with global trigger tool reviews in five Danish hospitals: an implementation study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001324.
Objectives
To describe experiences with the implementation of global trigger tool (GTT) reviews in five Danish hospitals and to suggest ways to improve the performance of GTT review teams.
Design
Retrospective observational study.
Setting
The measurement and monitoring of harms are crucial to campaigns to improve the safety of patients. Increasingly, teams use the GTT to review patient records and measure harms in English and non-English-speaking countries. Meanwhile, it is not clear as to how the method performs in such diverse settings.
Participants
Review teams from five Danish pilot hospitals of the national Danish Safer Hospital Programme.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
We collected harm rates, background and anecdotal information and reported patient safety incidents (PSIs) from five pilot hospitals currently participating in the Danish Safer Hospital Programme. Experienced reviewers categorised harms by type. We plotted harm rates as run-charts and applied rules for the detection of patterns of non-random variation.
Results
The hospitals differed in size but had similar patient populations and activity. PSIs varied between 3 and 12 per 1000 patient-days. The average harm rate for all hospitals was 60 per 1000 patient-days ranging from 34 to 84. The percentage of harmed patients was 25 and ranged from 18 to 33. Overall, 96% of harms were temporary. Infections, pressure ulcers procedure-related and gastrointestinal problems were common. Teams reported differences in training and review procedures such as the role of the secondary reviewer.
Conclusions
We found substantial variation in harm rates. Differences in training, review procedures and documentation in patient records probably contributed to these variations. Training reviewers as teams, specifying the roles of the different reviewers, training records and a database for findings of reviews may improve the application of the GTT.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001324
PMCID: PMC3488702  PMID: 23065451
Audit
3.  Feasibility of Collecting Diary Data From Asthma Patients Through Mobile Phones and SMS (Short Message Service): Response Rate Analysis and Focus Group Evaluation From a Pilot Study 
Background
Self-management of asthma may improve asthma outcomes. The Internet has been suggested as a tool for the monitoring and self-management of asthma. However, in a recent study we found that a Web interface had some disadvantages and that users stopped using the application after a short while.
Objective
The primary objective of this study was to evaluate, from a user perspective, the feasibility of using short message service (SMS) for asthma diary data collection through mobile phones. The secondary objective was to investigate patient compliance with an SMS diary, as measured by response rates over time.
Methods
The study included quantitative response rate data, based on SMS collection, and qualitative data from a traditional focus group setting. In a period of 2 months, the participants received 4 SMS messages each day, including a medication reminder, a request to enter peak flow, data on sleep loss, and medication dosage. Participants were asked to reply to a minimum of 3 of the messages per day. Diary inputs were collected in a database and the response rate per patient was expressed as the number of diary inputs (SMS replies) divided by diary requests (product of number of days in the study and the number of diary questions per day) for each participant. After the study period, the participants were invited to a focus group interview addressing the participants' attitudes to their disease, their experience with the SMS asthma diary, and their future expectations from the SMS asthma diary.
Results
Twelve patients with asthma (6 males, 6 females) participated in the data collection study. The median age was 38.5 (range: 13 – 57) years. The median response rate per patient was 0.69 (range: 0.03 – 0.98), ie, half the participants reported more than about two thirds of the requested diary data. Furthermore, response rates were relatively steady during the study period with no signs of decreasing usage over time. From the subsequent focus group interview with 9 users we learned that, in general, the participants were enthusiastic about the SMS diary – it became an integrated part of their everyday life. However, the participants wished for a simpler diary with only one SMS message to respond to and a system with a Web interface for system customization and graphical display of diary data history.
Conclusion
This study suggests that SMS collection of asthma diary data is feasible, and that SMS may be a tool for supporting the self-management of asthma (and possibly other chronic diseases) in motivated and self-efficacious patients because mobile phones are a part of people's everyday lives and enable active requests for data wherever the patient is. The combination of SMS data collection and a traditional Web page for data display and system customization may be a better and more usable tool for patients than the use of Web-based asthma diaries which suffer from high attrition rates.
doi:10.2196/jmir.6.4.e42
PMCID: PMC1550628  PMID: 15631966
Internet; cellular phone; asthma; disease management; patient compliance; focus groups; qualitative research
4.  Using the Internet for Life Style Changes in Diet and Physical Activity: A Feasibility Study 
Background
LinkMedica-Heart is a novel Internet based program intended to support people who seek to improve their life style by means of changes in diet and physical activity. The program is currently under evaluation in a clinical study and the present study is a feasibility test of the LinkMedica-Heart Internet based program.
Objective
The aim of this study was to evaluate LinkMedica-Heart, an Internet based program we designed for support and maintenance of patient-led life style changes.
Methods
The feasibility study of LinkMedica-Heart presented here is a qualitative study. Nine general practitioners were invited to participate. Each practitioner was asked to introduce LinkMedica-Heart to not less than two patients, with a maximum of five patients per practitioner. Patients and general practitioners were both asked to participate in testing the program for a period of 6 months. At the end of 6 months, evaluation meetings were held with the general practitioners, and separate interviews took place with some of the participating patients who were selected by the GPs.
Results
Five general practitioners and 25 patients participated in the study. The general practitioners and the patients were enthusiastic about the prospect of an Internet based life style change program. However, the program was not able to sustain patient loyalty over an extended period. The doctors found that the program was much too complicated to navigate and that the results from the program could not be trusted. The patients in contrast had fewer complaints about the program design, but found that the advice given by the program was too elaborate and detailed and, in general, did not add to the patient's knowledge on life style change.
Conclusion
Our study confirms that there is a need for, and a receptive attitude toward a Web-based program that supports people who want to improve their life style and health. LinkMedica-Heart in its present form does not satisfy these needs. We suggest a number of design changes and improvements to the program.
doi:10.2196/jmir.6.3.e28
PMCID: PMC1550602  PMID: 15471754
Internet; life style; self care; physician-patient relations; computer-assisted decision making; user-computer interface
5.  Quantitative and Qualitative Usage Data of an Internet-Based Asthma Monitoring Tool 
Background
In May 2000, AstraZeneca launched a Web service for asthma patients and health-care providers called LinkMedica, which includes an asthma diary for monitoring and self-management. In the diary, the patient enters his or her peak flow, number of doses of rescue medication, and if there have been any asthma symptoms during the previous 24 hours. The patient receives an immediate response from LinkMedica, telling him or her if the asthma is under control and what to do if not, eg, increase the dose of inhaled steroid. Health-care providers have access to the patient diary.
Objectives
The primary objective of the study was to describe patients' and health-care providers' use of LinkMedica. Secondary objectives were to evaluate their perception of the system and how the users' interaction with the system is influenced by their everyday lives.
Methods
Site statistics regarding number of registered users and diary usage were analyzed. An online survey among users (85 respondents), a mailed questionnaire to health-care providers (131 respondents; response rate 26.8%), as well as in-depth interviews with 10 patients and 5 general practitioners, elicited further quantitative and qualitative data on users' perceptions.
Results
In February 2003, a total of 7653 users had registered. During 2002, the growth in registered users averaged 50 per month. In the same period, the number of unique diary users per month decreased from 307 to 138. Patients usually stopped using the diary after a short time; the doctors were reluctant to introduce the diary to patients because of time constraints. Several user subtypes were identified among patients and their relatives.
Conclusion
The self-selected survey responses and in-depth interviews indicated that LinkMedica is generally considered a trustworthy and reliable site by both patients and doctors. However, there was a contrast between users' positive perception of LinkMedica and their unwillingness to use the site for more than short periods. The primary reason for this was that LinkMedica did not fit into their everyday lives because of technical and psychological aspects. A number of recommendations to improve LinkMedica are suggested.
doi:10.2196/jmir.6.3.e23
PMCID: PMC1550611  PMID: 15471749
Internet; asthma; self care; physician-patient relations; computer-assisted decision making; human-computer interaction
6.  Generic Design of Web-Based Clinical Databases 
Background
The complexity and the rapid evolution and expansion of the domain of clinical information make development and maintenance of clinical databases difficult. Whenever new data types are introduced or existing types are modified in a conventional relational database system, the physical design of the database must be changed accordingly. For this reason, it is desirable that a clinical database be flexible and allow for modifications and for addition of new types of data without having to change the physical database schema. The ideal clinical database would therefore implement a highly-detailed logical database schema in a completely-generic physical schema that stores the wide variety of clinical data in a small and constant number of tables.
Objective
The objective was to review the medical literature regarding generic design of clinical databases.
Methods
A search strategy was devised for PubMed and Google to get the best match of peer-reviewed articles and free Web resources on the subject.
Results
Eight peer reviewed articles and a Web tutorial were found. All the resources described the so-called Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) design as a means of simplifying the physical layout of data tables in a clinical database. In Entity-Attribute-Value design all data can be stored in a single generic table with conceptually 3 columns: 1 for entity (eg, patient identification), 1 for attribute (eg, name), and 1 for value (eg, "Jens Hansen"). To add more descriptive fields to the entity class, all that is necessary is to add attribute values to be stored in the attribute field. The main advantages of the Entity-Attribute-Value design are flexibility and effective entity-centered data retrieval. The main disadvantages are complicated front-end programming needed to display data in a conventional layout that the user understands and less-efficient attribute-centered queries. The Internet offers unique opportunities for database deployment, eliminating problems of user-interface deployment. Furthermore, Web forms may be generated in a completely-generic fashion during run time from metadata describing the semantic structure of clinical information stored in the database.
Conclusions
The Entity-Attribute-Value model is useful for generic design of clinical databases. Depending on the specific requirements of the application, more or less complex metadata models may be applied.
doi:10.2196/jmir.5.4.e27
PMCID: PMC1550574  PMID: 14713655
Databases; medical informatics applications; software design; Internet

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