What is the impact of an electronic test result acknowledgement system on Emergency Department physicians’ work processes? A mixed-method pre-post observational study

Andrew Georgiou*, Euan J. McCaughey, Amina Tariq, Scott R. Walter, Julie Li, Joanne Callen, Richard Paoloni, William B. Runciman, Johanna I. Westbrook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the impact of an electronic Results Acknowledgement (eRA) system on emergency physicians’ test result management work processes and the time taken to acknowledge microbiology and radiology test results for patients discharged from an Emergency Department (ED). Methods: The impact of the eRA system was assessed in an Australian ED using: a) semi-structured interviews with senior emergency physicians; and b) a time and motion direct observational study of senior emergency physicians completing test acknowledgment pre and post the implementation of the eRA system. Results: The eRA system led to changes in the way results and actions were collated, stored, documented and communicated. Although there was a non-significant increase in the average time taken to acknowledge results in the post period, most types of acknowledgements (other than simple acknowledgements) took less time to complete. The number of acknowledgements where physicians sought additional information from the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) rose from 12% pre to 20% post implementation of eRA. Conclusions: Given that the type of results are unlikely to have changed significantly across the pre and post implementation periods, the increase in the time physicians spent accessing additional clinical information in the post period likely reflects the greater access to clinical information provided by the integrated electronic system. Easier access to clinical information may improve clinical decision making and enhance the quality of patient care. For instance, in situations where a senior clinician, not initially involved in the care process, is required to deal with the follow-up of non-normal results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017



  • Emergency Department
  • Information systems
  • Laboratory
  • Medical imaging
  • Test result follow-up

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