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Developing a Method for Identifying and Reducing Functional Discrepancies of Information Systems

Author: Jung-Wei Chen, DDS, MS (2007)

Primary Advisor: Jiajie Zhang, PhD

Committee Members: Todd R. Johnson, PhD; Craig W. Johnson, PhD; Cynthia L. Phelps, PhD; David Taylor, EdD

PhD Thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

Currently more than half of Electronic Health Record (EHR) projects fail. Most of these failures are not due to flawed technology, but rather due to the lack of systematic considerations of human issues. Among the barriers for EHR adoption, function mismatching among users, activities, and systems is a major area that has not been systematically addressed from a human-centered perspective. A theoretical framework called Functional Framework was developed for identifying and reducing functional discrepancies among users, activities, and systems. The Functional Framework is composed of three models – the User Model, the Designer Model, and the Activity Model. The User Model was developed by conducting a survey (N = 32) that identified the functions needed and desired from the user’s perspective. The Designer Model was developed by conducting a systemic review of an Electronic Dental Record (EDR) and its functions. The Activity Model was developed using an ethnographic method called shadowing where EDR users (5 dentists, 5 dental assistants, 5 administrative personnel) were followed quietly and observed for their activities. These three models were combined to form a unified model. From the unified model the work domain ontology was developed by asking users to rate the functions (a total of 190 functions) in the unified model along the dimensions of frequency and criticality in a survey. The functional discrepancies, as indicated by the regions of the Venn diagrams formed by the three models, were consistent with the survey results, especially with user satisfaction. The survey for the Functional Framework indicated the preference of one system over the other (R=0.895). The results of this project showed that the Functional Framework provides a systematic method for identifying, evaluating, and reducing functional discrepancies among users, systems, and activities. Limitations and generalizability of the Functional Framework were discussed.