A Preliminary Investigation of an Integration Tool to Improve Access to Information Resources in Clinical Software

Jean-Pierre Calabretto, Bryn Lewis, James Reeve


Decision support (DS) tools offer opportunities to improve the delivery and quality of health care by preventing errors, improving communication and increasing knowledge accessibility. Effective implementation strategies across different settings need to be determined. With the rapid uptake of computers in Australian general practice over the past decade, there is potential for general practitioners (GPs) to access independent, evidence-based information at the point of care through their clinical software. However, there is a lack of standard approaches or specifications for this purpose. This remains a poorly investigated area where there are potentially valuable gains to be made. A software application was developed to deliver key clinical information resources to GPs at the point-of-care. The tool was designed so that it would automatically trigger a search at specific points during the GP’s workflow, providing context-sensitive links to clinical information resources. A prototyping approach for software development was taken and a qualitative approach to user-needs assessment consisting of user meetings, one-on-one interviews with GPs and prototype testing with four GPs, and a clinical pharmacologist. The ability to access multiple independent information resources using a single search was highly valued by participants. The automated search facility linked to specific triggers in the clinical software was considered less valuable. Simplicity of use and speed were critical factors determining overall use of the tool. Our experience provides some insight into realising a practical and useful way of supporting GPs’ access to independent evidence-based information resources to support decision-making during patient encounters


Information Retrieval; Decision support; General practice

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