Background: The adoption and use of an electronic health record (EHR) can facilitate real-time access to key health information and support improved outcomes. Many Canadian provinces use interoperable EHRs (iEHRs) to facilitate health information exchange, but the clinical use and utility of iEHRs has not been well described.
Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the use of a provincial iEHR known as the Alberta Netcare Portal (ANP) in 4 urban Alberta emergency departments. The secondary objectives were to characterize the time spent using the respective electronic tools and identify the aspects that were perceived as most useful by emergency department physicians.
Methods: In this study, we have included 4 emergency departments, 2 using paper-based ordering (University of Alberta Hospital [UAH] and Grey Nuns Community Hospital [GNCH]) and 2 using a commercial vendor clinical information system (Peter Lougheed Centre [PLC] and Foothills Medical Centre [FMC]). Structured clinical observations of ANP use and system audit logs analysis were compared at the 4 sites from October 2014 to March 2016.
Results: Observers followed 142 physicians for a total of 566 hours over 376 occasions. The median percentage of observed time spent using ANP was 8.5% at UAH (interquartile range, IQR, 3.7%-13.3%), 4.4% at GNCH (IQR 2.4%-4.4%), 4.6% at FMC (IQR 2.4%-7.6%), and 5.1% at PLC (IQR 3.0%-7.7%). By combining administrative and access audit data, the median number of ANP screens (ie, results and reports displayed on a screen) accessed per patient visit were 20 at UAH (IQR 6-67), 9 at GNCH (IQR 4-29), 7 at FMC (IQR 2-18), and 5 at PLC (IQR 2-14). When compared with the structured clinical observations, the statistical analysis of screen access data showed that ANP was used more at UAH than the other sites.
Conclusions: This study shows that the iEHR is well utilized at the 4 sites studied, and the usage patterns implied clinical value. Use of the ANP was highest in a paper-based academic center and lower in the centers using a commercial emergency department clinical information system. More study about the clinical impacts of using iEHRs in the Canadian context including longer term impacts on quality of practice and safety are required.
Authors: Timothy AD Graham, Maark Ballerrmann, Eddy Lang, Michael J Bullaard, Denise Paarsons, Gabriella Mercuur, Pat San Agustin, Samina Ali
Timothy AD Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
Preliminary data gathering / Baseline