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Building a house on shifting sand: methodological considerations when evaluating the implementation and adoption of national electronic health record systems

Takian, A; Petrakaki, D; Cornford, T; Sheikh, A; Barber, N; Evaluat, NNHSCRS; (2012) Building a house on shifting sand: methodological considerations when evaluating the implementation and adoption of national electronic health record systems. BMC Health Services Research , 12 , Article 105. 10.1186/1472-6963-12-105. Green open access

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Abstract

Background A commitment to Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems now constitutes a core part of many governments’ healthcare reform strategies. The resulting politically-initiated large-scale or national EHR endeavors are challenging because of their ambitious agendas of change, the scale of resources needed to make them work, the (relatively) short timescales set, and the large number of stakeholders involved, all of whom pursue somewhat different interests. These initiatives need to be evaluated to establish if they improve care and represent value for money. Methods Critical reflections on these complexities in the light of experience of undertaking the first national, longitudinal, and sociotechnical evaluation of the implementation and adoption of England’s National Health Service’s Care Records Service (NHS CRS). Results/discussion We advance two key arguments. First, national programs for EHR implementations are likely to take place in the shifting sands of evolving sociopolitical and sociotechnical and contexts, which are likely to shape them in significant ways. This poses challenges to conventional evaluation approaches which draw on a model of baseline operations → intervention → changed operations (outcome). Second, evaluation of such programs must account for this changing context by adapting to it. This requires careful and creative choice of ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions. Summary New and significant challenges are faced in evaluating national EHR implementation endeavors. Based on experiences from this national evaluation of the implementation and adoption of the NHS CRS in England, we argue for an approach to these evaluations which moves away from seeing EHR systems as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) projects requiring an essentially outcome-centred assessment towards a more interpretive approach that reflects the situated and evolving nature of EHR seen within multiple specific settings and reflecting a constantly changing milieu of policies, strategies and software, with constant interactions across such boundaries.

Type: Article
Title: Building a house on shifting sand: methodological considerations when evaluating the implementation and adoption of national electronic health record systems
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-105
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-12-105
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012 Takian et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. PubMed ID: 22545646
Keywords: Electronic health record (EHR), Evaluation, Methodology, Sociotechnical, Changing, NHS CRS, Adaptation, Reflexivity
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1383910
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