Development of functional requirements for electronic health communication: preliminary results from the ELIN project

Tom Christensen, Anders Grimsmo


Background User participation is important for developing a functional requirements specification for electronic communication. General practitioners and practising specialists, however, often work in small practices without the resources to develop and present their requirements. It was necessary to find a method that could engage practising doctors in order to promote their needs related to electronic communication.
Materials and methods Qualitative research methods were used, starting a process to develop and study documents and collect data from meetings in project groups. Triangulation was used, in that the participants were organised into a panel of experts, a user group, a supplier group and an editorial committee.
Results The panel of experts created a list of functional requirements for electronic communication in health care, consisting of 197 requirements, in addition to 67 requirements selected from an existing Norwegian standard for electronic patient records (EPRs). Elimination of paper copies sent in parallel with electronic messages, optimal workflow, a common electronic 'envelope' with directory services for units and end-users, and defined requirements for content with the possibility of decision support were the most important requirements.
Conclusions The results indicate that we have found a method of developing functional requirements which provides valid results both for practising doctors and for suppliers of EPR systems.


communication; electronic patient record; general practice

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