Identifying Home Care Clinicians’ Information Needs for Managing Fall Risks

Journal: Applied Clinical Informatics
ISSN: 1869-0327
Issue: Vol. 7: Issue 2 2016
Pages: 211-226

Identifying Home Care Clinicians’ Information Needs for Managing Fall Risks

Research Article

Special Topic: H3IT

D. Alhuwail (1), G. Koru (1)

(1) Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County


Quality of Care, Information Management, workflow, Health information technology, Home health agencies


Objectives: To help manage the risk of falls in home care, this study aimed to (i) identify home care clinicians’ information needs and how they manage missing or inaccurate data, (ii) identify problems that impact effectiveness and efficiency associated with retaining, exchanging, or processing information about fall risks in existing workflows and currently adopted health information technology (IT) solutions, and (iii) offer informatics-based recommendations to improve fall risk management interventions.

Methods: A case study was carried out in a single not-for-profit suburban Medicare-certified home health agency with three branches. Qualitative data were collected over a six month period through observations, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. The Framework method was used for analysis. Maximum variation sampling was adopted to recruit a diverse sample of clinicians.

Results: Overall, the information needs for fall risk management were categorized into physiological, care delivery, educational, social, environmental, and administrative domains. Examples include a brief fall-related patient history, weight-bearing status, medications that affect balance, availability of caregivers at home, and the influence of patients’ cultures on fall management interventions. The unavailability and inaccuracy of critical information related to fall risks can delay necessary therapeutic services aimed at reducing patients’ risk for falling and thereby jeopardizing their safety. Currently adopted IT solutions did not adequately accommodate data related to fall risk management.

Conclusion: The results highlight the essential information for fall risk management in home care. Home care workflows and health IT solutions must effectively and efficiently retain, exchange, and process information necessary for fall risk management. Interoperability and integration of the various health IT solutions to make data sharing accessible to all clinicians is critical for fall risk management. Findings from this study can help home health agencies better understand their information needs to manage fall risks.

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