Exploring the role of the Care and Health Information Exchange (CHIE) in clinical decision-making: a realist evaluation

Philip Scott, Elisavet Andrikopoulou, Haythem Nakkas, Paul Roderick

Research output: Working paper


Background: The overall evidence for the impact of electronic information systems on cost, quality and safety of healthcare remains contested. Whilst it seems intuitively obvious that having more data about a patient will improve care, the mechanisms by which information availability is translated into better decision-making are not well understood. Furthermore, there is the risk of data overload creating a negative outcome. There are situations where a key information summary can be more useful than a rich record. The Care and Health Information Exchange (CHIE) is a shared electronic health record for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that combines key information from hospital, general practice, community care and social services. Its purpose is to provide clinical and care professionals with complete, accurate and up-to-date information when caring for patients. CHIE is used by GP out-of-hours services, acute hospital doctors, ambulance service, GPs and others in caring for patients.

Research questions: The fundamental question was How does awareness of CHIE or usage of CHIE affect clinical decision-making? The secondary questions were What are the latent benefits of CHIE in frontline NHS operations? and What is the potential of CHIE to have an impact on major NHS cost pressures? The NHS funders decided to focus on acute medical inpatient admissions as the initial scope, given the high costs associated with hospital stays and the patient complexities (and therefore information requirements) often associated with unscheduled admissions.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals to explore their experience about the utility of CHIE in their clinical scenario, whether and how it has affected their decision-making practices and the barriers and facilitators for their use of CHIE. The Framework Method was used for qualitative analysis, supported by the software tool Atlas.ti.

Results: 21 healthcare professionals were interviewed. Three main functions were identified as useful: extensive medication prescribing history, information sharing between primary, secondary and social care and access to laboratory test results. We inferred two positive cognitive mechanisms: knowledge confidence and collaboration assurance, and three negative ones: consent anxiety, search anxiety and data mistrust.

Conclusions: CHIE gives clinicians the bigger picture to understand the patient's health and social care history and circumstances so as to make confident and informed decisions. CHIE is very beneficial for medicines reconciliation on admission, especially for patients that are unable to speak or act for themselves or who cannot remember their precise medication or allergies. We found no clear evidence that CHIE has a significant impact on admission or discharge decisions. We propose the use of recommender systems to help clinicians navigate such large volumes of patient data, which will only grow as additional data is collected.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020


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