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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2011 May 1;18(3):282-91. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000009.

Collaborative search in electronic health records.

Author information

1
School of Public Health Department of Health Management and Policy, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. kzheng@umich.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

A full-text search engine can be a useful tool for augmenting the reuse value of unstructured narrative data stored in electronic health records (EHR). A prominent barrier to the effective utilization of such tools originates from users' lack of search expertise and/or medical-domain knowledge. To mitigate the issue, the authors experimented with a 'collaborative search' feature through a homegrown EHR search engine that allows users to preserve their search knowledge and share it with others. This feature was inspired by the success of many social information-foraging techniques used on the web that leverage users' collective wisdom to improve the quality and efficiency of information retrieval.

DESIGN:

The authors conducted an empirical evaluation study over a 4-year period. The user sample consisted of 451 academic researchers, medical practitioners, and hospital administrators. The data were analyzed using a social-network analysis to delineate the structure of the user collaboration networks that mediated the diffusion of knowledge of search.

RESULTS:

The users embraced the concept with considerable enthusiasm. About half of the EHR searches processed by the system (0.44 million) were based on stored search knowledge; 0.16 million utilized shared knowledge made available by other users. The social-network analysis results also suggest that the user-collaboration networks engendered by the collaborative search feature played an instrumental role in enabling the transfer of search knowledge across people and domains.

CONCLUSION:

Applying collaborative search, a social information-foraging technique popularly used on the web, may provide the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of information retrieval in healthcare.

PMID:
21486887
PMCID:
PMC3078661
DOI:
10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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