Transforming user needs into functional requirements for an antibiotic clinical decision support system: explicating content analysis for system design

Appl Clin Inform. 2013 Dec 25;4(4):618-35. doi: 10.4338/ACI-2013-08-RA-0058. eCollection 2013.


Background: Many informatics studies use content analysis to generate functional requirements for system development. Explication of this translational process from qualitative data to functional requirements can strengthen the understanding and scientific rigor when applying content analysis in informatics studies.

Objective: To describe a user-centered approach transforming emergent themes derived from focus group data into functional requirements for informatics solutions and to illustrate these methods to the development of an antibiotic clinical decision support system (CDS).

Methods: THE APPROACH CONSISTED OF FIVE STEPS: 1) identify unmet therapeutic planning information needs via Focus Group Study-I, 2) develop a coding framework of therapeutic planning themes to refine the domain scope to antibiotic therapeutic planning, 3) identify functional requirements of an antibiotic CDS system via Focus Group Study-II, 4) discover informatics solutions and functional requirements from coded data, and 5) determine the types of information needed to support the antibiotic CDS system and link with the identified informatics solutions and functional requirements.

Results: The coding framework for Focus Group Study-I revealed unmet therapeutic planning needs. Twelve subthemes emerged and were clustered into four themes; analysis indicated a need for an antibiotic CDS intervention. Focus Group Study-II included five types of information needs. Comments from the Barrier/Challenge to information access and Function/Feature themes produced three informatics solutions and 13 functional requirements of an antibiotic CDS system. Comments from the Patient, Institution, and Domain themes generated required data elements for each informatics solution.

Conclusion: This study presents one example explicating content analysis of focus group data and the analysis process to functional requirements from narrative data. Illustration of this 5-step method was used to develop an antibiotic CDS system, resolving unmet antibiotic prescribing needs. As a reusable approach, these techniques can be refined and applied to resolve unmet information needs with informatics interventions in additional domains.

Keywords: Data collection methods; clinical decision support systems; focus groups; needs assessment; user-computer interface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • User-Computer Interface