The impact of health information technology on the management and follow-up of test results: a systematic review

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Objective: To investigate the impact of health information technology (IT) systems on clinicians’ work practices and patient engagement in the management and follow-up of test results.

Materials and Methods: A search for studies reporting health IT systems and clinician test results management was conducted in the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, ProQuest, and Scopus from January 1999 to June 2018. Test results follow-up was defined as provider follow-up of results for tests that were sent to the laboratory and radiology services for processing or analysis.

Results: There are some findings from controlled studies showing that health IT can improve the proportion of tests followed-up (15 percentage point change) and increase physician awareness of test results that require action (24–28 percentage point change). Taken as whole, however, the evidence of the impact of health IT on test result management and follow-up is not strong.

Discussion: The development of safe and effective test results management IT systems should pivot on several axes. These axes include 1) patient-centerd engagement (involving shared, timely, and meaningful information); 2) diagnostic processes (that involve the integration of multiple people and different clinical settings across the health care spectrum); and 3) organizational communications (the myriad of multi- transactional processes requiring feedback, iteration, and confirmation) that contribute to the patient care process.

Conclusion: Existing evidence indicates that health IT in and of itself does not (and most likely cannot) provide a complete solution to issues related to test results management and follow-up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-688
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • missed test results
  • diagnostic tests
  • workflow
  • patient participation
  • medical informatics


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