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What is the effect of information and computing technology on healthcare? Open Access


Other title
health informatics, primary care, physician office systems, electronic medical records, electronic health records, socio-technical factors
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ludwick, Dave
Supervisor and department
Dr. John Doucette (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Don Philippon (Strategic Management & Special Advisor to the Provost on Health System Relations)
Dr. Jason Carey (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Peter Flynn (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Pierre Mertiny (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Andre Kushniruk (University of Victoria, Health Information Science)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Long waitlists and growing numbers of unattached patients are indicative of a Canadian healthcare system which is unable to address the demands of a growing and aging population. Health information technology is one solution offering respite, but brings its own issues. Health information technology includes primary care physician office systems, telehealth and jurisdictional EHRs integrated through interoperability standards to share data across care providers. This dissertation explores effects that health information technology has on primary care. Literature reviews provided context of health information systems adoption. Surveys and semi-structured interviews gathered information from health system actors. Workflow analysis illustrated how technology could change physician office workflow. Exam room observations illustrated how technology affects proxemics and haptics in the patient encounter. This research derived change management models which quantified substantial change management costs related to adoption of physician office systems. We found that physicians have concerns over how health information technology will affect efficiency, financial, quality, liability, safety and other factors. Physicians in smaller suburban physician offices take little time to select a system for their needs. Urban, academic and hospital physicians spend more time networking with colleagues and devote funds to project management and training. Our studies showed that stronger professional networks, more complete training, a managed approach to implementation and in-house technical support are more influential in facilitating adoption than remuneration models. Telemedicine can improve quality of care, the referral process for family physicians and access to services for patients. Teledermatology was shown to make significant improvements in access to services for patients, but referring physicians are concerned about their liability if they follow the recommendations of a dermatologist who has not seen their patient face-to-face. Certification organizations mitigate liability, procurement and financial risk to qualifying family physicians by pre-qualifying vendor solutions, coaching physicians through procurement and reimbursing family physicians for purchasing an approved system. We found that centralization plays a key role in adoption of health information systems at the jurisdictional and primary care level. Online scheduling can reduce human resource requirements used in scheduling, if the system is well implemented, well documented and easy to use.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File author: Dave Ludwick
File author: Dave Ludwick
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File language: en-US
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