Research shows that electronic health record systems can induce information overload for primary care professionals.
It is clear that better clinical decisions can be made when better information is available. This can come from patient histories, as well as population data and physiological models. Much of a patient’s history must be collected at the frontline. However, primary care professionals can be inundated and overwhelmed by the information gathering and processing activities.
A recent study investigated the quantity, flow and value of information in the form of patient electronic health records. It showed that few information items were deemed non-essential,
while only around half of the alerts were of high clinical value. This led to significant inefficiencies, and, perhaps more relevantly, a perception of information overload. Each alert is associated with considerable processing time, while an invited commentary on the above study described that of 7 physicians surveyed, the average time lost to computer tasks was 48 mins per day.
This shows a clear case for the Digital Patient, in the first instance as an efficient way to enter, store and share information. Also, more importantly, as a method to synthesise information to allow information access, blending and knowledge return. As the amount of information is ever-increasing, this will become essential. As we proceed in framing the future direction of the Digital Patient initiative, we will benefit from listening to the needs and challenges facing healthcare workers in the clinic.
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