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1.  Boundaries and e-health implementation in health and social care 
The major problem facing health and social care systems globally today is the growing challenge of an elderly population with complex health and social care needs. A longstanding challenge to the provision of high quality, effectively coordinated care for those with complex needs has been the historical separation of health and social care. Access to timely and accurate data about patients and their treatments has the potential to deliver better care at less cost.
To explore the way in which structural, professional and geographical boundaries have affected e-health implementation in health and social care, through an empirical study of the implementation of an electronic version of Single Shared Assessment (SSA) in Scotland, using three retrospective, qualitative case studies in three different health board locations.
Progress in effectively sharing electronic data had been slow and uneven. One cause was the presence of established structural boundaries, which lead to competing priorities, incompatible IT systems and infrastructure, and poor cooperation. A second cause was the presence of established professional boundaries, which affect staffs’ understanding and acceptance of data sharing and their information requirements. Geographical boundaries featured but less prominently and contrasting perspectives were found with regard to issues such as co-location of health and social care professionals.
To provide holistic care to those with complex health and social care needs, it is essential that we develop integrated approaches to care delivery. Successful integration needs practices such as good project management and governance, ensuring system interoperability, leadership, good training and support, together with clear efforts to improve working relations across professional boundaries and communication of a clear project vision. This study shows that while technological developments make integration possible, long-standing boundaries constitute substantial risks to IT implementations across the health and social care interface which those initiating major changes would do well to consider before committing to the investment.
PMCID: PMC3465217  PMID: 22958223
2.  The influence of context and process when implementing e-health 
Investing in computer-based information systems is notoriously risky, since many systems fail to become routinely used as part of everyday working practices, yet there is clear evidence about the management practices which improve the acceptance and integration of such systems. Our aim in this study was to identify to what extent these generic management practices are evident in e-health projects, and to use that knowledge to develop a theoretical model of e-health implementation. This will support the implementation of appropriate e-health systems.
This study consisted of qualitative semi-structured interviews with managers and health professionals in Scotland, UK. We contacted the Scottish Ethics Committee, who advised that formal application to that body was not necessary for this study. The interview guide aimed to identify the issues which respondents believed had affected the successful implementation of e-health projects. We drew on our research into information systems in other sectors to identify likely themes and questions, which we piloted and revised. Eighteen respondents with experience of e-health projects agreed to be interviewed. These were recorded, transcribed, coded, and then analysed with 'Nvivo' data analysis software.
Respondents identified factors in the context of e-health projects which had affected implementation, including clarity of the strategy; supportive structures and cultures; effects on working processes; and how staff perceived the change. The results also identified useful implementation practices such as balancing planning with adaptability; managing participation; and using power effectively.
The interviews confirmed that the contextual factors that affect implementation of information systems in general also affect implementation of e-health projects. As expected, these take place in an evolving context of strategies, structures, cultures, working processes and people. Respondents also confirmed that those managing such projects seek to change these contexts through observable implementation processes of planning, adaptation, participation and using power. This study confirms that research to support the delivery of appropriate e-health projects can usefully draw on the experience of information systems in other sectors.
PMCID: PMC2642812  PMID: 19183479
3.  The effect of attitude to risk on decisions made by nurses using computerised decision support software in telephone clinical assessment: an observational study 
There is variation in the decisions made by telephone assessment nurses using computerised decision support software (CDSS). Variation in nurses' attitudes to risk has been identified as a possible explanatory factor. This study was undertaken to explore the effect of nurses' attitudes to risk on the decisions they make when using CDSS. The setting was NHS 24 which is a nationwide telephone assessment service in Scotland in which nurses assess health problems, mainly on behalf of out-of-hours general practice, and triage calls to self care, a service at a later date, or immediate contact with a service.
All NHS 24 nurses were asked to complete a questionnaire about their background and attitudes to risk. Routine data on the decisions made by these nurses was obtained for a six month period in 2005. Multilevel modelling was used to measure the effect of nurses' risk attitudes on the proportion of calls they sent to self care rather than to services.
The response rate to the questionnaire was 57% (265/464). 231,112 calls were matched to 211 of these nurses. 16% (36,342/231,112) of calls were sent to self care, varying three fold between the top and bottom deciles of nurses. Fifteen risk attitude variables were tested, including items on attitudes to risk in clinical decision-making. Attitudes to risk varied greatly between nurses, for example 27% (71/262) of nurses strongly agreed that an NHS 24 nurse "must not take any risks with physical illness" while 17% (45/262) disagreed. After case-mix adjustment, there was some evidence that nurses' attitudes to risk affected decisions but this was inconsistent and unconvincing.
Much of the variation in decision-making by nurses using CDSS remained unexplained. There was no convincing evidence that nurses' attitudes to risk affected the decisions made. This may have been due to the limitations of the instrument used to measure risk attitude.
PMCID: PMC2238735  PMID: 18047658

Results 1-3 (3)