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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Qualitative evaluation of a diabetes electronic decision support tool: views of users

Qing Wan, Meredith Makeham, Nicholas A Zwar* and Susanna Petche

Author Affiliations

School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:61  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-61

Published: 3 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Quality care of type 2 diabetes is complex and requires systematic use of clinical data to monitor care processes and outcomes. An electronic decision support (EDS) tool for the management of type 2 diabetes in primary care was developed by the Australian Pharmaceutical Alliance. The aim of this qualitative study was to evaluate the uptake and use of the EDS tool as well as to describe the impact of the EDS tool on the primary care consultation for diabetes from the perspectives of general practitioners and practice nurses.

Methods

This was a qualitative study of telephone interviews. General Practitioners and Practice Nurses from four Divisions of General Practice who had used the EDS tool for a minimum of six weeks were invited to participate. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the interview transcripts were coded and thematically analysed using NVivo 8 software.

Results

In total 15 General Practitioners and 2 Practice Nurses completed the interviews. The most commonly used feature of the EDS tool was the summary side bar; its major function was to provide an overview of clinical information and a prompt or reminder to diabetes care. It also assisted communication and served an educational role as a visual aide in the consultation. Some participants thought the tool resulted in longer consultations. There were a range of barriers to use related to the design and functionality of the tool and to the primary care context.

Conclusions

The EDS tool shows promise as a way of summarising information about patients’ diabetes state, reminder of required diabetes care and an aide to patient education.