Melbourne School of Government - Research Publications

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    Impact of Electronic Health Records on Information Practices in Mental Health Contexts: Scoping Review
    Kariotis, TC ; Prictor, M ; Chang, S ; Gray, K (JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC, 2022-05-04)
    BACKGROUND: The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs) has been slow in the mental health context, partly because of concerns regarding the collection of sensitive information, the standardization of mental health data, and the risk of negatively affecting therapeutic relationships. However, EHRs and EMRs are increasingly viewed as critical to improving information practices such as the documentation, use, and sharing of information and, more broadly, the quality of care provided. OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to undertake a scoping review to explore the impact of EHRs on information practices in mental health contexts and also explore how sensitive information, data standardization, and therapeutic relationships are managed when using EHRs in mental health contexts. METHODS: We considered a scoping review to be the most appropriate method for this review because of the relatively recent uptake of EHRs in mental health contexts. A comprehensive search of electronic databases was conducted with no date restrictions for articles that described the use of EHRs, EMRs, or associated systems in the mental health context. One of the authors reviewed all full texts, with 2 other authors each screening half of the full-text articles. The fourth author mediated the disagreements. Data regarding study characteristics were charted. A narrative and thematic synthesis approach was taken to analyze the included studies' results and address the research questions. RESULTS: The final review included 40 articles. The included studies were highly heterogeneous with a variety of study designs, objectives, and settings. Several themes and subthemes were identified that explored the impact of EHRs on information practices in the mental health context. EHRs improved the amount of information documented compared with paper. However, mental health-related information was regularly missing from EHRs, especially sensitive information. EHRs introduced more standardized and formalized documentation practices that raised issues because of the focus on narrative information in the mental health context. EHRs were found to disrupt information workflows in the mental health context, especially when they did not include appropriate templates or care plans. Usability issues also contributed to workflow concerns. Managing the documentation of sensitive information in EHRs was problematic; clinicians sometimes watered down sensitive information or chose to keep it in separate records. Concerningly, the included studies rarely involved service user perspectives. Furthermore, many studies provided limited information on the functionality or technical specifications of the EHR being used. CONCLUSIONS: We identified several areas in which work is needed to ensure that EHRs benefit clinicians and service users in the mental health context. As EHRs are increasingly considered critical for modern health systems, health care decision-makers should consider how EHRs can better reflect the complexity and sensitivity of information practices and workflows in the mental health context.