Effect of health information technology on healthcare provider communication

Julia Adler-Milstein, assistant professor in the Schools of Information and Public Health, is a co-investigator on a $1.6 million study funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that will investigate how communication technologies such as health records, email, and pagers are being used and where common failures occur.

Start date: 9/30/2014
End date: 9/29/2018

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Electronic medical records, computerized provider order entries, emails, pagers and other forms of communication technology can help reduce some communication failures, but also lead to a greater frequency of other failures when users are unfamiliar with how the technology should be properly utilized. 

As electronic communication has increased, face-to-face interactions between practitioners has decreased, which has led to crucial information being passed along incorrectly or not at all. Communication failures between physicians and nurses are one of the most common causes of negative incidents for hospitalized patients. 

Adler-Milstein was awarded a $120,556 sub-grant to work on this study led by principal investigator Milisa Manojlovich from the U-M School of Nursing. The study will seek to identify the best practices in supporting effective communication in healthcare settings.  

Researchers will conduct telephone interviews with personnel from up to eight hospitals and select four of those hospitals to collect data via observation, shadowing, focus groups and artifacts. 

The study will seek to identify the range of communication technologies used in a national sample of medical-surgical acute care units and describe communication practices and work relationships that may be influenced by technology in these settings. Researchers will also explore how different technologies, practices and relationships between physicians and nurses can influence communication. 

With current communication technologies based on models of individual decision-making, they can be insufficient for, or interfere with, decision that require input from multiple perspectives. As American hospitals move forward to fully implement health information technology, the implications from this study could help to shape the future development and implementation of health communication technologies.

Working with Adler-Milstein and Manojlovich on this project are the following co-investigators:

  • Molly Harrod, PhD, Research Scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research 
  • Timothy Hofer, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School and Research Scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research. 
  • Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, Research Scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research and a Research Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.
  • Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH, Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan and a Research Investigator at the Ann Arbor VA Center for Clinical Management Research. 
  • Anne Sales, PhD, RN, Professor of Nursing, University School of Nursing and Research Scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research.

Grants

The Effect of Health Information Technology on Healthcare Provider Communication, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: $120,556 (sub-grant from a larger $1,626,447 award)

 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) strives to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. As one of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ supports research that helps people make more informed decisions and improves the quality of health care services.