Working off the Record: Physicians' and Nurses' Transformations of Electronic Patient Record-based Patient Information
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BACKGROUND: Electronic patient records (EPRs) are increasingly being used in health care, but little is known about how EPR-based patient information is used in daily care activities, nor about its potential influence on novice training.
METHOD: Seventy-two physicians and nurses participated in an eight-month study on a single pediatric ward. Eighty hours of nonparticipant observations and 20 interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory and visual rhetoric.
RESULTS: Three main features of participant interactions with EPR-based information were identified: (1) EPR-based information was routinely transformed into paper documents; (2) these transformations were organized by profession-specific guiding principles; and (3) transformation strategies were learned through an informal curriculum.
CONCLUSIONS: This study describes how and why health care professionals work around EPR-based patient information, and suggests that an EPR's visual organization may be incompatible with professional activities. The study addresses the socializing implications of these activities, and highlights their educational potential.