HSR&D Home » Research » TRX 02-216 – HSR&D Study
Human Factors and the Effectiveness of Computerized Clinical Reminders
Emily S. Patterson, PhD MS
Cincinnati VA Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: July 2003 - June 2006
Computerized clinical reminders (CRs) are in widespread development to improve compliance with established clinical guidelines. Despite promising results from randomized controlled trials of CRs, effectiveness in practice is mixed. Human factors, the study of the interaction of humans and decision support systems in complex environments, may provide new explanations for why CRs are less effective an intervention than anticipated. In prior work, eleven human factors barriers to the use of 9 HIV clinical reminders were identified through ethnographic observation and semi-structured interviews. These barriers included design, organizational, team, provider, and contextual barriers as well as interactions with other supporting artifacts.
The aims are to identify human factors barriers and facilitators to the use of computerized clinical reminders, assess their prevalence across the VHA, and recommend local and national changes to design, implementation, and use.
Three studies combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. Study 1: Ethnographic observations to identify barriers and facilitators to the use of clinical reminders at four sites selected by convenience sampling. Study 2: National provider survey of randomly selected VHA physicians to determine prevalence rates. Study 3: Simulated use in a laboratory setting with intake nurses to evaluate whether a redesign of clinical reminders improves performance and efficiency of use as compared to the current design.
Study 1 findings are that barriers to use included (1) workload, (2) poor usability, (3) lack of flexibility, (4) coordination issues between nurses and providers, and (5) a tendency to perform documentation while not with the patient. Facilitators to use included (1) the ability to document problems and receive prompt feedback from those responsible for maintaining the clinical reminders system, (2) location of the computer workstations, (3) improving integration of reminders into "normal" workflow, and (4) strategies for reducing the overall number of clinical reminders at a site. Study 2 findings are that 1) more than two-thirds of VHA primary care respondents always use clinical reminders to some extent, typically during the patient visit, 2) physicians who provide more direct patient care are more likely to use more clinical reminders per patient, 3) physicians who have been in practice at the VHA for five to nine years are more likely to use more clinical reminders than physicians who have practiced fewer than five years, and 4) physicians who perceive a greater workload use fewer clinical reminders per patient. Study 3 findings are that a redesigned interface significantly increased efficiency and user satisfaction, and decreased mental workload and frustration, for six simulated patient-provider outpatient visits in a laboratory setting.
Improving the ability to effectively and easily use clinical reminders would likely increase and standardize the quality of care provided and increase the efficiency of care for all outpatients in the VHA.
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DRA: Health Systems
Keywords: Organizational issues
MeSH Terms: none