Electronic forms: benefits drawbacks of a World Wide Web-based approach to data entry.
It has long been realized that, compared to paper-based records, electronic record systems provide many advantages in the healthcare environment, including increased availability, improved legibility, long-term accessibility, (potentially) greater completeness, data encoding, and automated decision support and analysis. In spite of these recognized benefits, collection of patient data at the point of service generally does not occur, in large part because each such effort usually requires application-specific software and hardware, and, most significantly, provider time. Given the presence of WWW browsers now available on nearly every desktop, the support and access concerns for data entry applications can be substantially lessened. Despite these advantages, there are also downsides to the use of the WWW for data entry, including user interface issues and security. At CPMC, we are currently using web-based forms to gather patient charge data from physical and occupational therapists. Benefits of this approach have included a 98.2% user compliance rate for at least weekly data entry, and the reduction of charge posting from an average of 24.3 days to 2.3 days following the date of service. Drawbacks to WWW-based applications have included increased security exposure and persistent human tendencies to enter data in batches rather than at the time of service. A final conclusion was that, in the absence of a strong central mandate, providers must perceive a clear benefit in order to be willing to learn and use a new technology. (+info)