Model development for EHR interdisciplinary information exchange of ICU common goals

Sarah A. Collins*, Suzanne Bakken, David K. Vawdrey, Enrico Coiera, Leanne Currie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Effective interdisciplinary exchange of patient information is an essential component of safe, efficient, and patient-centered care in the intensive care unit (ICU). Frequent handoffs of patient care, high acuity of patient illness, and the increasing amount of available data complicate information exchange. Verbal communication can be affected by interruptions and time limitations. To supplement verbal communication, many ICUs rely on documentation in electronic health records (EHRs) to reduce errors of omission and information loss. The purpose of this study was to develop a model of EHR interdisciplinary information exchange of ICU common goals. Methods: The theoretical frameworks of distributed cognition and the clinical communication space were integrated and a previously published categorization of verbal information exchange was used. 59.5. h of interdisciplinary rounds in a neurovascular ICU were observed and five interviews and one focus group with ICU nurses and physicians were conducted. Results: Current documentation tools in the ICU were not sufficient to capture the nurses' and physicians' collaborative decision-making and verbal communication of goal-directed actions and interactions. Clinicians perceived the EHR to be inefficient for information retrieval, leading to a further reliance on verbal information exchange. Conclusion: The model suggests that EHRs should support: (1) information tools for the explicit documentation of goals, interventions, and assessments with synthesized and summarized information outputs of events and updates; and (2) messaging tools that support collaborative decision-making and patient safety double checks that currently occur between nurses and physicians in the absence of EHR support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e141-e149
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


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