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December 1997

Transition to a Computer-Based Record Using Scannable, Structured Encounter Forms

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs Shiffman and Freeman) and the Center for Medical Informatics (Drs Shiffman and Brandt), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(12):1247-1253. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170490073013

Objective:  To evaluate the quality of documentation and user satisfaction with a structured documentation system for pediatric health maintenance encounters, using scanned paper-based forms to generate an electronic medical record.

Design:  (1) A retrospective medical record review comparing 16 structured (ST) records with 16 contemporaneously created unstructured records, (2) a questionnaire evaluation of user satisfaction, and (3) an electronic records review of patients seen 1 year following the full implementation of the system to evaluate persistence of the effect.

Setting:  The Yale–New Haven Hospital Pediatric Primary Care Center, New Haven, Conn, an inner-city clinic in an academic center.

Participants:  (1) A random sample of 16 health maintenance records completed by first- and second-year residents in February 1996 matched for patient's age and provider training level with 16 contemporaneously documented visits, (2) 16 of 18 pediatric level 1 residents and 14 of 16 pediatric level 2 residents who completed questionnaires, and (3) all electronic records of health maintenance visits during February 1997.

Main Outcome Measures:  The number of data elements documented and the percentage of records that record specific components of the health maintenance encounter. User satisfaction was specified on a Likert scale.

Results:  Overall, residents in the ST records group documented more data elements per visit than did those in the unstructured records group. The number of developmental items documented was 11.5 per visit in the ST records group and 4.8 per visit in the unstructured records group (P=.004). Likewise, anticipatory guidance was more thoroughly documented in the ST records group—8.3 items per visit vs 2.5 items per visit (P<.001). Ninety percent of the users preferred the ST records. One year after the adoption of the ST recording system, high levels of thoroughness persisted.

Conclusions:  Structured, scannable encounter forms can facilitate documentation of patient care and are well accepted by users. They can provide an effective mechanism to ease the transition to a computer-based patient record.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:1247-1253