Abstract

[This article was originally published in Electronic Healthcare, Volume 7, Number 1.]

There is nothing so practical as a good theory …- Kurt Lewin

The Canadian healthcare landscape abounds with pressures to address wait times, chronic disease management, aging at home, information and service integration, health human resource shortages, pandemic planning and most importantly health outcomes of individuals receiving care in our system. Investment in clinical information technologies is often touted as significant to the successful resolution of most if not all of these issues. For example, Baker and Norton (2001) uncovered an alarming rate of preventable adverse events occurring within Canadian hospitals. A particularly high error rate associated with the administration of fluids and medications suggests that there is a dire need to introduce processes and tools to reduce human error in healthcare facilities. The implementation of clinical applications such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) with integrated electronic medication administration records (MAR) has been identified as a key step to safer care (Bates and Gawande 2003; Leape et al. 2002; Leatt et al. 2006). It has been suggested that the full value of electronic health records (EHR) will only be realized with the implementation of CPOE and that its use (by physicians) is a reasonable proxy for adoption (Ash and Bates 2005). Considering recent surveys of Canadian and American hospitals, those that have fully implemented CPOE remain in the minority (Ash et al. 2004; Davis 2007; Gudbranson 2007); most have yet to tackle the challenges of the change imperative and adoption issues associated with the use of a complete EHR.