Socio-technical considerations in epilepsy electronic patient record implementation

Int J Med Inform. 2010 May;79(5):349-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Feb 23.


Purpose: Examination of electronic patient record (EPR) implementation at the socio-technical interface. This study was based on the introduction of an anti-epileptic drug (AED) management module of an EPR in an epilepsy out-patient clinic. The objective was to introduce the module to a live clinical setting within strictly controlled conditions to evaluate its usability and usefulness.

Methods: Qualitative and quantitative methods were employed in an observational field study. A purposeful sample of specialists in epilepsy care (2 doctors and 2 nurses) was recruited. Perception of usefulness and ease of use of the AED module, impact on work processes, and accuracy of use were evaluated using feedback meetings, evaluation forms, ethnographic analysis and data validation techniques. Emerging issues were grouped into three key themes: human, organisational and technological.

Results: The electronic patient record use was studied for 49 patients over the course of 18 out-patient clinics. While participants varied in their approach to interacting with the AED module, they expressed satisfaction with its usability and performance. The necessary co-existence of the paper and electronic record, and changes to customary work practice were considered the biggest challenges. 82% accuracy in the use of the electronic record was determined.

Conclusions: Achieving successful electronic patient record implementation is complex. While technical challenges exist, it is possibly more important to acknowledge the social considerations. Initially, an increase in medical record fragmentation and disruption to workflow can arise with the introduction of the technology. Realising the benefits of electronic patient records will require the management of a lengthy transition phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Computers
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Epilepsy*
  • Health Plan Implementation / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Social Environment*