Notifications of hospital events to outpatient clinicians using health information exchange: a post-implementation survey

Richard Altman, Jason S Shapiro, Thomas Moore, Gilad J Kuperman


Background The trend towards hospitalist medicine can lead to disjointed patient care. Outpatient clinicians may be unaware of patients’ encounters with a disparate healthcare system. Electronic notifications to outpatient clinicians of patients’ emergency department (ED) visits and inpatient admissions and discharges using health information exchange can inform outpatient clinicians of patients’ hospital-based events.

Objective Assess outpatient clinicians’ impressions of a new, secure messaging-based, patient event notification system.

Methods Twenty outpatient clinicians receiving notifications of hospital-based events were recruited and 14 agreed to participate. Using a semi-structured interview, clinicians were asked about their use of notifications and the impact on their practices.

Results Nine of 14 interviewed clinicians (64%) thought that without notifications, they would have heard about fewer than 10% of ED visits before the patient’s next visit. Nine clinicians (64%) thought that without notifications, they would have heard about fewer than 25% of inpatient admissions and discharges before the patient’s next visit. Six clinicians (43%) reported that they call the inpatient team more often because of notifications. Eight users (57%) thought that notifications improved patient safety by increasing their awareness of the patients’ clinical events and their medication changes. Key themes identified were the importance of workflow integration and a desire for more clinical information in notifications.

Conclusions The notification system is perceived by clinicians to be of value. These findings should instigate further message-oriented use of health information exchange and point to refinements that can lead to even greater benefits.


ambulatory care information systems; community medicine; emergency medicine; health-care surveys; interprofessional relations; medical record linkage; programme evaluation; workflow

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