Objectives: We know little about how electronic health records (EHRs) should be designed to help patients, pharmacists, and physicians participate in interprofessional shared decision making. We used a qualitative approach to understand better how patients make decisions with their health care team, how this information influences decision making about their medications, and finally, how this process can be improved through the use of EHRs.
Design: Participants from 4 regions across Canada took part in a semistructured interview and completed a brief demographic survey. The interview transcripts were thematically analyzed by means of the multidisciplinary framework method.
Settings and participants: Thirty participants, 18 years of age and older with at least one chronic illness, were recruited from across Canada. We interviewed participants in their homes, at the school of pharmacy, or another location of their choosing.
Results: We identified 4 main themes: (1) complexity of patient decision making: who, where, what, when, why; (2) relationships with physicians and pharmacists: who do I trust for what?; (3) accessing health information for decision making: how much and from where?; and (4) patients' methods of managing information for health decision making. Across the themes, participants appreciated expert advice from professionals and wanted to be informed about all options, despite concerns about limited knowledge. EHRs were perceived as a potential solution to many of the barriers identified.
Conclusion: Patients make decisions with their health care providers as well as with family and friends. The pharmacist and physicians play different roles in helping patients in making decisions. We found that making EHRs accessible not only to health care providers but also to patients can provide a cohesive and clear context for making medication-related decisions. EHRs may facilitate clear communication, foster interprofessional understanding, and improve patient access to their health information. Future research should examine how to develop EHRs that are adaptive to user needs and desires.
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