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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Use of hyperlinks in electronic test result communication: a survey study in general practice

Thomas Ostersen Mukai12*, Flemming Bro1, Morten Fenger-Grøn13, Frede Olesen1 and Peter Vedsted14

Author Affiliations

1 The Research Unit for General Practice, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, DK-8000, Aarhus C, Denmark

2 Section for General Medical Practice, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, DK-8000, Aarhus C, Denmark

3 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Olof Palmes Allé 43-45, DK-8200, Aarhus N, Denmark

4 Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care – CaP, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:114  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-114

Published: 4 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Information is essential in healthcare. Recording, handling and sharing healthcare information is important in order to ensure high quality of delivered healthcare. Information and communication technology (ICT) may be a valuable tool for handling these challenges. One way of enhancing the exchange of information could be to establish a link between patient-specific and general information sent to the general practitioner (GP). The aim of the present paper is to study GPs' use of a hyperlink inserted into electronic test result communication.

Methods

We inserted a hyperlink into the electronic test result communication sent to the patients’ GPs who participated in a regional, systematic breast cancer screening program. The hyperlink target was a web-site with information on the breast cancer screening program and breast cancer in general. Different strategies were used to increase the GPs’ use of this hyperlink. The outcome measure was the GPs’ self-reported use of the link. Data were collected by means of a one-page paper-based questionnaire.

Results

The response rate was 73% (n=242). In total, 108 (45%) of the GPs reported to have used the link. In all, 22% (n=53) of the GPs used the web-address from a paper letter and 37% (n=89) used the hyperlink in the electronic test result communication (Δ = 15%[95%confidence  int erval(CI) = 8 − 22%P < 0.001]). We found no statistically significant associations between use of the web-address/hyperlink and the GP’s gender, age, or attitude towards mammography screening.

Conclusions

The results suggest that hyperlinks in electronic test result communication could be a feasible strategy for combining and sharing different types of healthcare information.