Socio-cultural issues and patient safety: a case study into the development of an electronic support tool for clinical handover

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2007:130:279-89.


This paper describes a case study into the development of an electronic support tool for clinical handover conducted in the Royal Hobart Hospital's Department of General Internal Medicine. By directly involving clinicians as co-participants in the development, and by conceptualising the system to be built as a support tool rather than as a 'total solution' this case study outlines the practical experience of dealing with a diversity of user requirements. The approach involved in-depth fieldwork to understand the factors and their inter-relationships in clinical handover processes. From an analysis of the data generated key issues relating to work processes and potential impacts on patient safety were identified and discussed with clinicians. A support tool incorporating a series of design features aimed at improving patient safety and supporting existing work processes identified as important by the clinicians was developed. Through early and continual involvement of clinicians in the project, this case study highlights how socio-cultural analysis can be translated meaningfully (in terms of the end-users) into systems design. The paper aims to contribute to a stronger recognition within the domain of eHealth of user-centred approach to systems development for patient safety.

MeSH terms

  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • Nurses
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Physicians
  • Social Environment*