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Paper and computer workarounds challenge but may improve health IT
Date:6/3/2011

INDIANAPOLIS A new research study investigates the challenges that pen and paper workarounds or computerized communication breakdowns pose to the use of electronic health records. Understanding these challenges may lead to improved coordination of care supported by health IT.

Focusing on referrals by primary care physicians to specialists and communications from the specialists back to the referring physician, "Paper Persistence, Workarounds, and Communication Breakdowns in Computerized Consultation Management" appears in the July 2011 issue of the International Journal of Medical Informatics. It is a follow-up to a pilot study, "Exploring the Persistence of Paper with the Electronic Health Record," published in the September 2009 issue of the same journal.

"We sought to develop an understanding of the current challenges to the outpatient consult management process in the Veterans Health Administration, which uses an electronic health record to support consultations requested by primary care physicians with specialists such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists or neurologists. We also wanted to see if two years after our pilot study, paper workarounds remained popular with the medical staff," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Jason Saleem, Ph.D., a research health scientist at the Health Services Research and Development Center on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

Using an electronic health record system for referrals provides a variety of advantages, including legibility of patient data, decreased likelihood of misplaced information, physician reminders that prompts actions, as well as simultaneous, distributed access and integration with other information systems. Potential disadvantages to using a computerized system for consultations had not received significant study prior to Dr. Saleem's work.

"Electronic health records are a vast
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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