JMIR Publications

JMIR Medical Informatics

Clinical informatics, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, and ehealth infrastructures.

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Journal Description

JMIR Medical Informatics (JMI, ISSN 2291-9694) focusses on clinical informatics, big data in health and health care, decision support for health professionals, electronic health records, ehealth infrastructures and implementation. It has a focus on applied, translational research, with a broad readership including clinicians, CIOs, engineers, industry and health informatics professionals.

Published by JMIR Publications, publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), the leading eHealth/mHealth journal (Impact Factor 2014: 3.4), JMIR Med Inform has a different scope (emphasizing more on applications for clinicians and health professionals rather than consumers/citizens, which is the focus of JMIR), publishes even faster, and also allows papers which are more technical or more formative than what would be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

JMIR Medical Informatics journal features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs (ready for deposit in PubMed Central/PubMed). The site is optimized for mobile and iPad use.

JMIR Medical Informatics adheres to the same quality standards as JMIR and all articles published here are also cross-listed in the Table of Contents of JMIR, the worlds' leading medical journal in health sciences / health services research and health informatics (http://www.jmir.org/issue/current).

 

Recent Articles:

  • Photo by hin255. Published on 01 April 2013 Stock photo - Image ID: 100152858; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Healthcare_g355-Doctor_Touching_For_Treatment_p152858.html.

    Use and Uptake of eHealth in General Practice: A Cross-Sectional Survey and Focus Group Study Among Health Care Users and General Practitioners

    Abstract:

    Background: Policy makers promote the use of eHealth to widen access to health care services and to improve the quality and safety of care. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm among policy makers for eHealth does not match its uptake and use. eHealth is defined in this study as “health services delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related information and communication technologies.” Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate (1) the current use of eHealth in the Netherlands by general practitioners (GPs) and health care users, (2) the future plans of GPs to provide eHealth and the willingness of health care users to use eHealth services, and (3) the perceived positive effects and barriers from the perspective of GPs and health care users. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of a sample of Dutch GPs and members of the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel was conducted in April 2014. A pre-structured questionnaire was completed by 171 GPs (12% response) and by 754 health care users (50% response). In addition, two focus groups were conducted in June 2014: one group with GPs (8 participants) and one with health care users (10 participants). Results: Three-quarters of Dutch GPs that responded to the questionnaire (67.3%, 115/171) offered patients the possibility of requesting a prescription via the Internet, and half of them offered patients the possibility of asking a question via the Internet (49.1%, 84/171). In general, they did intend to provide future eHealth services. Nonetheless, many of the GPs perceived barriers, especially concerning its innovation (eg, insufficient reliable, secure systems) and the sociopolitical context (eg, lack of financial compensation for the time spent on implementation). By contrast, health care users were generally not aware of existing eHealth services offered by their GPs. Nevertheless, half of them were willing to use eHealth services when offered by their GP. In general, health care users have positive attitudes regarding eHealth. One in five (20.6%, 148/718) health care users perceived barriers to the use of eHealth. These included concerns about the safety of health information obtained via the Internet (66.7%, 96/144) and privacy aspects (55.6%, 80/144). Conclusions: GPs and health care users have generally positive attitudes towards eHealth, which is a prerequisite for the uptake of eHealth. But, general practitioners in particular perceive barriers to using eHealth and consider the implementation of eHealth to be complex. This study shows that there is room for improving awareness of eHealth services in primary care. It will take some time before these issues are resolved and eHealth can be fully adopted.

  • Schematic illustration of the study design, created and uploaded by the authors.

    A Querying Method over RDF-ized Health Level Seven v2.5 Messages Using Life Science Knowledge Resources

    Abstract:

    Background: Health level seven version 2.5 (HL7 v2.5) is a widespread messaging standard for information exchange between clinical information systems. By applying Semantic Web technologies for handling HL7 v2.5 messages, it is possible to integrate large-scale clinical data with life science knowledge resources. Objective: Showing feasibility of a querying method over large-scale resource description framework (RDF)-ized HL7 v2.5 messages using publicly available drug databases. Methods: We developed a method to convert HL7 v2.5 messages into the RDF. We also converted five kinds of drug databases into RDF and provided explicit links between the corresponding items among them. With those linked drug data, we then developed a method for query expansion to search the clinical data using semantic information on drug classes along with four types of temporal patterns. For evaluation purpose, medication orders and laboratory test results for a 3-year period at the University of Tokyo Hospital were used, and the query execution times were measured. Results: Approximately 650 million RDF triples for medication orders and 790 million RDF triples for laboratory test results were converted. Taking three types of query in use cases for detecting adverse events of drugs as an example, we confirmed these queries were represented in SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language (SPARQL) using our methods and comparison with conventional query expressions were performed. The measurement results confirm that the query time is feasible and increases logarithmically or linearly with the amount of data and without diverging. Conclusions: The proposed methods enabled query expressions that separate knowledge resources and clinical data, thereby suggesting the feasibility for improving the usability of clinical data by enhancing the knowledge resources. We also demonstrate that when HL7 v2.5 messages are automatically converted into RDF, searches are still possible through SPARQL without modifying the structure. As such, the proposed method benefits not only our hospitals, but also numerous hospitals that handle HL7 v2.5 messages. Our approach highlights a potential of large-scale data federation techniques to retrieve clinical information, which could be applied as applications of clinical intelligence to improve clinical practices, such as adverse drug event monitoring and cohort selection for a clinical study as well as discovering new knowledge from clinical information.

  • Doctors reviewing charts on tablet. iStock ID26076669. Copyright: Burlingham, license purchased by authors. 
Source: http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/wide-shot-of-doctors-reviewing-charts-on-tablet-horizontal-gm175620801-26077616.

    Understanding the Impact of Electronic Medical Record Use on Practice-Based Population Health Management: A Mixed-Method Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Practice-based population health (PBPH) management is the proactive management of patients by their primary care clinical team. The ability of clinics to engage in PBPH and the means by which they incorporate it in a clinical setting remain unknown. Objective: We conducted the Canadian Population Health Management Challenge to determine the capacity and preparedness of primary care settings to engage in PBPH using their existing medical record systems and to understand the complexities that may exist in PBPH implementation. Methods: We recruited a sample of electronic medical record (EMR) -enabled and paper-based clinics from across Canada to participate in the challenge. The challenge required clinic staff and physicians to complete time-controlled, evidence-based practice reviews of their patients who may benefit from evidence-informed care, treatment, or interventions across five different areas (immunization, postmyocardial infarction care, cancer screening, diabetes management, and medication recall). We formulated a preparedness index to measure the capacity of clinics to engage in PBPH management. Finally, we conducted follow-up qualitative interviews to provide richer understanding of PBPH implementation and related issues (ie, challenges and facilitators). Results: A total of 11 primary care clinics participated, representing 21 clinician practices. EMR-enabled clinics completed a full review of charts in an average of 1.37 hours. On the contrary, paper-based clinics reviewed nearly 10% of their charts in an average of 3.9 hours, hinting that they would have required an estimated 40 hours to complete a review of charts in their practice. Furthermore, the index revealed a major gap in preparedness between the EMR and paper-based clinics (0.86–3.78 vs 0.05–0.12), as well as a broad range among the EMR clinics. Finally, building on the results of the qualitative analysis, we identified factors facilitating the integration of PBPH. Conclusions: Our results suggest that EMR usage is pivotal in setting the foundation to support PBPH. The wide range of performance variation among EMR-enabled clinics suggests that EMR functionality and optimization, its support of clinical practice workflow, and policy issues to ensure adoption of standards are critical issues to facilitate PBPH.

  • Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_health#/media/File:Telemedicine_Consult.jpg
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Health Information Technology: Meaningful Use and Next Steps to Improving Electronic Facilitation of Medication Adherence

    Abstract:

    Background: The use of health information technology (HIT) may improve medication adherence, but challenges for implementation remain. Objective: The aim of this paper is to review the current state of HIT as it relates to medication adherence programs, acknowledge the potential barriers in light of current legislation, and provide recommendations to improve ongoing medication adherence strategies through the use of HIT. Methods: We describe four potential HIT barriers that may impact interoperability and subsequent medication adherence. Legislation in the United States has incentivized the use of HIT to facilitate and enhance medication adherence. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) was recently adopted and establishes federal standards for the so-called "meaningful use" of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology that can directly impact medication adherence. Results: The four persistent HIT barriers to medication adherence include (1) underdevelopment of data reciprocity across clinical, community, and home settings, limiting the capture of data necessary for clinical care; (2) inconsistent data definitions and lack of harmonization of patient-focused data standards, making existing data difficult to use for patient-centered outcomes research; (3) inability to effectively use the national drug code information from the various electronic health record and claims datasets for adherence purposes; and (4) lack of data capture for medication management interventions, such as medication management therapy (MTM) in the EHR. Potential recommendations to address these issues are discussed. Conclusion: To make meaningful, high quality data accessible, and subsequently improve medication adherence, these challenges will need to be addressed to fully reach the potential of HIT in impacting one of our largest public health issues.

  • Snapshot of computerized adaptive testing (CAT)-based inpatient perception questionnaire for patients.
From: Chien TW, Wang WC, Huang SY, Lai WP, Chow JC. A Web-Based Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to Assess Patient Perception in Hospitalization. J Med Internet Res 2011;13(3):e61.
File URL: http://www.jmir.org/2011/3/e61/
License: CC-BY-2.0.

    Improving Inpatient Surveys: Web-Based Computer Adaptive Testing Accessed via Mobile Phone QR Codes

    Abstract:

    Background: The National Health Service (NHS) 70-item inpatient questionnaire surveys inpatients on their perceptions of their hospitalization experience. However, it imposes more burden on the patient than other similar surveys. The literature shows that computerized adaptive testing (CAT) based on item response theory can help shorten the item length of a questionnaire without compromising its precision. Objective: Our aim was to investigate whether CAT can be (1) efficient with item reduction and (2) used with quick response (QR) codes scanned by mobile phones. Methods: After downloading the 2008 inpatient survey data from the Picker Institute Europe website and analyzing the difficulties of this 70-item questionnaire, we used an author-made Excel program using the Rasch partial credit model to simulate 1000 patients’ true scores followed by a standard normal distribution. The CAT was compared to two other scenarios of answering all items (AAI) and the randomized selection method (RSM), as we investigated item length (efficiency) and measurement accuracy. The author-made Web-based CAT program for gathering patient feedback was effectively accessed from mobile phones by scanning the QR code. Results: We found that the CAT can be more efficient for patients answering questions (ie, fewer items to respond to) than either AAI or RSM without compromising its measurement accuracy. A Web-based CAT inpatient survey accessed by scanning a QR code on a mobile phone was viable for gathering inpatient satisfaction responses. Conclusions: With advances in technology, patients can now be offered alternatives for providing feedback about hospitalization satisfaction. This Web-based CAT is a possible option in health care settings for reducing the number of survey items, as well as offering an innovative QR code access.

  • Image Source: John Maddin via FlickR, https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmaddin/3661448960/ CC BY-ND 2.0.

    Conceptual Models in Health Informatics Research: A Literature Review and Suggestions for Development

    Abstract:

    Background: Contributing to health informatics research means using conceptual models that are integrative and explain the research in terms of the two broad domains of health science and information science. However, it can be hard for novice health informatics researchers to find exemplars and guidelines in working with integrative conceptual models. Objectives: The aim of this paper is to support the use of integrative conceptual models in research on information and communication technologies in the health sector, and to encourage discussion of these conceptual models in scholarly forums. Methods: A two-part method was used to summarize and structure ideas about how to work effectively with conceptual models in health informatics research that included (1) a selective review and summary of the literature of conceptual models; and (2) the construction of a step-by-step approach to developing a conceptual model. Results: The seven-step methodology for developing conceptual models in health informatics research explained in this paper involves (1) acknowledging the limitations of health science and information science conceptual models; (2) giving a rationale for one’s choice of integrative conceptual model; (3) explicating a conceptual model verbally and graphically; (4) seeking feedback about the conceptual model from stakeholders in both the health science and information science domains; (5) aligning a conceptual model with an appropriate research plan; (6) adapting a conceptual model in response to new knowledge over time; and (7) disseminating conceptual models in scholarly and scientific forums. Conclusions: Making explicit the conceptual model that underpins a health informatics research project can contribute to increasing the number of well-formed and strongly grounded health informatics research projects. This explication has distinct benefits for researchers in training, research teams, and researchers and practitioners in information, health, and other disciplines.

  • (cc) Cuba Gyllensten et al.
Credit License: CC-BY-SA 2.0.

    Early Indication of Decompensated Heart Failure in Patients on Home-Telemonitoring: A Comparison of Prediction Algorithms Based on Daily Weight and...

    Abstract:

    Background: Heart Failure (HF) is a common reason for hospitalization. Admissions might be prevented by early detection of and intervention for decompensation. Conventionally, changes in weight, a possible measure of fluid accumulation, have been used to detect deterioration. Transthoracic impedance may be a more sensitive and accurate measure of fluid accumulation. Objective: In this study, we review previously proposed predictive algorithms using body weight and noninvasive transthoracic bio-impedance (NITTI) to predict HF decompensations. Methods: We monitored 91 patients with chronic HF for an average of 10 months using a weight scale and a wearable bio-impedance vest. Three algorithms were tested using either simple rule-of-thumb differences (RoT), moving averages (MACD), or cumulative sums (CUSUM). Results: Algorithms using NITTI in the 2 weeks preceding decompensation predicted events (P<.001); however, using weight alone did not. Cross-validation showed that NITTI improved sensitivity of all algorithms tested and that trend algorithms provided the best performance for either measurement (Weight-MACD: 33%, NITTI-CUSUM: 60%) in contrast to the simpler rules-of-thumb (Weight-RoT: 20%, NITTI-RoT: 33%) as proposed in HF guidelines. Conclusions: NITTI measurements decrease before decompensations, and combined with trend algorithms, improve the detection of HF decompensation over current guideline rules; however, many alerts are not associated with clinically overt decompensation.

  • Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAeromedical_evacuation_tests_new_device_for_patient_records_130717-F-IQ718-887.jpg
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Aeromedical_evacuation_tests_new_device_for_patient_records_130717-F-IQ718-887.jpg
Attribution: By Senior Airman Hailey Haux (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/991816) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

    Industry and Occupation in the Electronic Health Record: An Investigation of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Industry and...

    Abstract:

    Background: Inclusion of information about a patient’s work, industry, and occupation, in the electronic health record (EHR) could facilitate occupational health surveillance, better health outcomes, prevention activities, and identification of workers’ compensation cases. The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed an autocoding system for “industry” and “occupation” based on 1990 Bureau of Census codes; its effectiveness requires evaluation in conjunction with promoting the mandatory addition of these variables to the EHR. Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the intercoder reliability of NIOSH’s Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System (NIOCCS) when applied to data collected in a community survey conducted under the Affordable Care Act; to determine the proportion of records that are autocoded using NIOCCS. Methods: Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes are used by several federal agencies in databases that capture demographic, employment, and health information to harmonize variables related to work activities among these data sources. There are 359 industry and occupation responses that were hand coded by 2 investigators, who came to a consensus on every code. The same variables were autocoded using NIOCCS at the high and moderate criteria level. Results: Kappa was .84 for agreement between hand coders and between the hand coder consensus code versus NIOCCS high confidence level codes for the first 2 digits of the SOC code. For 4 digits, NIOCCS coding versus investigator coding ranged from kappa=.56 to .70. In this study, NIOCCS was able to achieve production rates (ie, to autocode) 31%-36% of entered variables at the “high confidence” level and 49%-58% at the “medium confidence” level. Autocoding (production) rates are somewhat lower than those reported by NIOSH. Agreement between manually coded and autocoded data are “substantial” at the 2-digit level, but only “fair” to “good” at the 4-digit level. Conclusions: This work serves as a baseline for performance of NIOCCS by investigators in the field. Further field testing will clarify NIOCCS effectiveness in terms of ability to assign codes and coding accuracy and will clarify its value as inclusion of these occupational variables in the EHR is promoted.

  • Electronic consultations.

    Disruptive Innovation: Implementation of Electronic Consultations in a Veterans Affairs Health Care System

    Abstract:

    Background: Electronic consultations (e-consults) offer rapid access to specialist input without the need for a patient visit. E-consult implementation began in 2011 at VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS). By early 2013, e-consults were available for all clinical services. In this implementation, the requesting clinician selects the desired consultation within the electronic health record (EHR) ordering menu, which creates an electronic form that is pre-populated with patient demographic information and allows free-text entry of the reason for consult. This triggers a message to the requesting clinician and requested specialty, thereby enabling bidirectional clinician-clinician communication. Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the utilization of e-consults in a large Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Methods: Data from the electronic health record was used to measure frequency of e-consult use by provider type (physician or nurse practitioner (NP) and/or physician assistant), and by the requesting and responding specialty from January 2012 to December 2013. We conducted chart reviews for a purposive sample of e-consults and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of clinicians and hospital leaders to better characterize the process, challenges, and usability of e-consults. Results: A total of 7097 e-consults were identified, 1998 from 2012 and 5099 from 2013. More than one quarter (27.56%, 1956/7097) of the e-consult requests originated from VA facilities in New England other than VABHS and were excluded from subsequent analysis. Within the VABHS e-consults (72.44%, 5141/7097), variability in frequency and use of e-consults across provider types and specialties was found. A total of 64 NPs requested 2407 e-consults (median 12.5, range 1-415). In contrast, 448 physicians (including residents and fellows) requested 2349 e-consults (median 2, range 1-116). More than one third (37.35%, 1920/5141) of e-consults were sent from primary care to specialists. While most e-consults reflected a request for specialist input to a generalist’s question in diagnosis or management in the ambulatory setting, we identified creative uses of e-consults, including requests for face-to-face appointments and documentation of pre-operative chart reviews; moreover, 7.00% (360/5141) of the e-consults originated from our sub-acute and chronic care inpatient units. In interviews, requesting providers reported high utility and usability. Specialists recognized the value of e-consults but expressed concerns about additional workload. Conclusions: The e-consult mechanism is frequently utilized for its initial intended purpose. It has also been adopted for unexpected clinical and administrative uses, developing into a “disruptive innovation” and highlighting existing gaps in mechanisms for provider communication. Further investigation is needed to characterize optimal utilization of e-consults within specialty and the medical center, and what features of the e-consult program, other than volume, represent valid measures of access and quality care.

  • This photo depicts a physician discussing health records, including medication history, with a female patient. Photo is copyright Monkey Business Images and released to the authors by Shutterstock, Inc. (http://www.shutterstock.com). Signed model and property releases filed with Shutterstock, Inc.

    Integration of Provider, Pharmacy, and Patient-Reported Data to Improve Medication Adherence for Type 2 Diabetes: A Controlled Before-After Pilot Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Patients with diabetes often have poor adherence to using medications as prescribed. The reasons why, however, are not well understood. Furthermore, most health care delivery processes do not routinely assess medication adherence or the factors that contribute to poor adherence. Objective: The objective of the study was to assess the feasibility of an integrated informatics approach to aggregating and displaying clinically relevant data with the potential to identify issues that may interfere with appropriate medication utilization and facilitate patient-provider communication during clinical encounters about strategies to improve medication use. Methods: We developed a clinical dashboard within an electronic health record (EHR) system that uses data from three sources: the medical record, pharmacy claims, and a patient portal. Next, we implemented the dashboard into three community health centers. Health care providers (n=15) and patients with diabetes (n=96) were enrolled in a before-after pilot to test the system’s impact on medication adherence and clinical outcomes. To measure adherence, we calculated the proportion of days covered using pharmacy claims. Demographic, laboratory, and visit data from the EHR were analyzed using pairwise t tests. Perceived barriers to adherence were self-reported by patients. Providers were surveyed about their use and perceptions of the clinical dashboard. Results: Adherence significantly and meaningfully improved (improvements ranged from 6%-20%) consistently across diabetes as well as cardiovascular drug classes. Clinical outcomes, including HbA1c, blood pressure, lipid control, and emergency department utilization remained unchanged. Only a quarter of patients (n=24) logged into the patient portal and completed psychosocial questionnaires about their barriers to taking medications. Conclusions: Integrated approaches using advanced EHR, clinical decision support, and patient-controlled technologies show promise for improving appropriate medication use and supporting better management of chronic conditions. Future research and development is necessary to design, implement, and integrate the myriad of EHR and clinical decision support systems as well as patient-focused information systems into routine care and patient processes that together support health and well-being.

  • Fully automated measurement of subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue in the entire abdominal region from commuted tomography.

    Computerized Automated Quantification of Subcutaneous and Visceral Adipose Tissue From Computed Tomography Scans: Development and Validation Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Computed tomography (CT) is often viewed as one of the most accurate methods for measuring visceral adipose tissue (VAT). However, measuring VAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) from CT is a time-consuming and tedious process. Thus, evaluating patients’ obesity levels during clinical trials using CT scans is both cumbersome and limiting. Objective: To describe an image-processing-based and automated method for measuring adipose tissue in the entire abdominal region. Methods: The method detects SAT and VAT levels using a separation mask based on muscles of the human body. The separation mask is the region that minimizes the unnecessary space between a closed path and muscle area. In addition, a correction mask, based on bones, corrects the error in VAT. Results: To validate the method, the volume of total adipose tissue (TAT), SAT, and VAT were measured for a total of 100 CTs using the automated method, and the results compared with those from manual measurements obtained by 2 experts. Dice’s similarity coefficients (DSCs) between the first manual measurement and the automated result for TAT, SAT, and VAT are 0.99, 0.98, and 0.97, respectively. The DSCs between the second manual measurement and the automated result for TAT, SAT, and VAT are 0.98, 0.98, and 0.97, respectively. Moreover, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) between the automated method and the results of the manual measurements indicate high reliability as the ICCs for the items are all .99 (P<.001). Conclusions: The results described in this paper confirm the accuracy and reliability of the proposed method. The method is expected to be both convenient and useful in the clinical evaluation and study of obesity in patients who require SAT and VAT measurements.

  • TOC Image.
Credit: Image created by the first author

    The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature

    Abstract:

    Background: Advancements in information technology (IT) and its increasingly ubiquitous nature expand the ability to engage patients in the health care process and motivate health behavior change. Objective: Our aim was to systematically review the (1) impact of IT platforms used to promote patients’ engagement and to effect change in health behaviors and health outcomes, (2) behavior theories or models applied as bases for developing these interventions and their impact on health outcomes, (3) different ways of measuring health outcomes, (4) usability, feasibility, and acceptability of these technologies among patients, and (5) challenges and research directions for implementing IT platforms to meaningfully impact patient engagement and health outcomes. Methods: PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar were searched for studies published from 2000 to December 2014. Two reviewers assessed the quality of the included papers, and potentially relevant studies were retrieved and assessed for eligibility based on predetermined inclusion criteria. Results: A total of 170 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed in detail. Overall, 88.8% (151/170) of studies showed positive impact on patient behavior and 82.9% (141/170) reported high levels of improvement in patient engagement. Only 47.1% (80/170) referenced specific behavior theories and only 33.5% (57/170) assessed the usability of IT platforms. The majority of studies used indirect ways to measure health outcomes (65.9%, 112/170). Conclusions: In general, the review has shown that IT platforms can enhance patient engagement and improve health outcomes. Few studies addressed usability of these interventions, and the reason for not using specific behavior theories remains unclear. Further research is needed to clarify these important questions. In addition, an assessment of these types of interventions should be conducted based on a common framework using a large variety of measurements; these measurements should include those related to motivation for health behavior change, long-standing adherence, expenditure, satisfaction, and health outcomes.

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  • The State of Open Source Electronic Health Record Projects: A Software Anthropology Study

    Date Submitted: Apr 6, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: Apr 7, 2016 - Jun 2, 2016

    Background: Electronic health records are key tools in managing and storing patients’ illness information. Several open source EHR applications are available at SourceForge, the largest repository o...

    Background: Electronic health records are key tools in managing and storing patients’ illness information. Several open source EHR applications are available at SourceForge, the largest repository of open source projects. However, few published studies that focused on the characteristics of F/OSS electronic health record software and none to date has been published on the motivation, knowledge background, and demographic characteristics of the developers involved in open source electronic health records (EHR) projects. Functionality and usability are important success factors for any system. These are often a direct reflection of the domain knowledge and motivations of the developers. This is particularly true in open source development, where it is often said the genesis of many open source projects is “scratching one’s own itch”. Objective: This study analyzes the characteristics of F/OSS electronic health record software and aims to provide an understanding of the motivation, knowledge background, and characteristics of the developers involved in open source electronic health records (EHR) projects. Methods: The research identified F/OSS electronic health record projects on SourceForge and other websites starting in May 2014. Projects were classified and characterized by :license type , downloads, programming languages, spoken languages, project age, development status, supporting materials, top downloads according to countries, and certified open EHR. Healthcare F/OSS developers were also surveyed using an online survey website (SurveyGizmo). Results: There are 54 open source EHR projects, but only four of them are CMS certified applications. The majority of the projects, 44.5%, have been downloaded by users in the United States, which reveals a significant interest in EHR open source applications in the U.S. A total of 103 responses were successfully collected showing the reasons to contribute to a healthcare open source project. The top motivation factor (56.5%) is intrinsic enjoyment. The majority of users are paid for participation in F/OSS projects. Only twenty-five percent of healthcare F/OSS developers are, of have been, healthcare providers in their careers, and 45.9% of developers do not work in the healthcare field. Conclusions: Open source software seems to be important to many healthcare organizations in general; however, given that only four F/OSS EHR systems are U.S. ONC certified, this highlights a challenge for the U.S. adoption of F/OSS healthcare systems. Healthcare open source software currently lacks the governmental support for sustainability and growth of these software programs. This research highlights some challenges that may be hindering the future of healthcare F/OSS.

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