The aim of this multi-method study based at a microbiology department in a major Sydney metropolitan teaching hospital was to: i) identify the role that information and communication processes play in a paper-based test request system, and ii) examine how these processes may affect the implementation and design of Computerised Provider Order Entry (CPOE) systems. Participants in this study reported that clinical information can impact on the urgency and type of tests undertaken and affect the interpretation of test results. An audit of 1051 microbiology test request forms collected over a three-day period showed that 47% of request forms included clinical notes which provide a variety of information often vital to the test analysis and reporting process. This transfer of information plays an important role in the communication relationship between the ward and the laboratory. The introduction of new CPOE systems can help to increase the efficiency of this process but for that to be achieved research attention needs to be given to enhancing the provision and communication of clinical information.