Study: Health IT Implementation Can Disrupt Clinical Workflows

July 20, 2015 in News

Health IT implementation can disrupt clinical workflows across roles and clinics, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, FierceEMR reports.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers analyzed six ambulatory practices from two participating health care organizations, referred to as “Organization West” and “Organization East.” The study included 120 clinicians and clinic staff members (Hall, FierceEMR, 7/17).

Organization West integrated a clinical advancement project into its existing electronic health record system. The integration included:

  • An electronic homepage;
  • Computerized provider order entry;
  • Electronic prescribing; and
  • A standardized messaging center.

Meanwhile, Organization East replaced its locally developed EHR system with a new system.

The researchers observed workflow before, during and after implementation of both projects (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 7/16).

Findings

According to the study, implementation of the health IT tools altered various workflow processes among the organizations, including:

  • Changes to how workspaces were used;
  • Increased interruptions;
  • Multitasking and off-hours work; and
  • Redistribution of time spent on clinical tasks.

The researchers attributed most of the changes to transitioning responsibilities among clinic staff and the need for more-structured documentation (FierceEMR, 7/17).

In addition, the study found that health IT implementation can cause patient interruptions because new documentation requirements require providers to spend more time on computers. As a result, the study found that providers often had less time to talk with patients after health IT had been implemented.

The study concluded, “Health IT can create additional work and impact workflow unfavorably by creating inefficiencies or disruptions.” Researchers noted that some changes “may be manifestations of deficiencies and oversights in the design of health IT or in the implementation processes,” such as:

  • Poor software usability; and
  • The lack of incentive for end users to enter electronic data (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/16).
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