Despite the widespread availability of computerized decision support systems (CDSSs) in various healthcare settings, evidence on their uptake and effectiveness is still limited. Most barrier studies focus on CDSSs that are aimed at a limited number of decision points within selected small-scale academic settings. The aim of this study was to identify the perceived barriers to using large-scale implemented CDSSs covering multiple disease areas in primary care.
Three focus group sessions were conducted in which 24 primary care practitioners (PCPs) participated (general practitioners, general practitioners in training and practice nurses), varying from 7 to 9 per session. In each focus group, barriers to using CDSSs were discussed using a semi-structured literature-based topic list. Focus group discussions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers independently performed thematic content analysis using the software program Atlas.ti 7.0.
Three groups of barriers emerged, related to 1) the users’ knowledge of the system, 2) the users’ evaluation of features of the system (source and content, format/lay out, and functionality), and 3) the interaction of the system with external factors (patient-related and environmental factors). Commonly perceived barriers were insufficient knowledge of the CDSS, irrelevant alerts, too high intensity of alerts, a lack of flexibility and learning capacity of the CDSS, a negative effect on patient communication, and the additional time and work it requires to use the CDSS.
Multiple types of barriers may hinder the use of large-scale implemented CDSSs covering multiple disease areas in primary care. Lack of knowledge of the system is an important barrier, emphasizing the importance of a proper introduction of the system to the target group. Furthermore, barriers related to a lack of integration into daily practice seem to be of primary concern, suggesting that increasing the system’s flexibility and learning capacity in order to be able to adapt the decision support to meet the varying needs of different users should be the main target of CDSS interventions.