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Abstract

Lack of communication is a leading root cause of sentinel events (any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in a patient’s death or serious physical or psychological injury and not related to the natural course of the patient's illness). Deficits in communication of essential information when patients transfer between different healthcare services can cause interruptions in the continuity of care, inappropriate treatment, and potential harm to the patient. Research has shown that providing the right information about the right patient to healthcare providers at the right time could eliminate up to 18 percent of the general adverse events. In this paper, we assess the applicability of the work system framework (WSF) to evaluate the health information-exchange processes that occur when patients are transferred from home healthcare services and nursing homes to hospitals. From our analysis, we identify possible improvements in both work practices and the flow of health information among healthcare providers. Further, we propose a modified work system snapshot template tailored for evaluating the health information-exchange process. The proposed modifications include changing the WSF terminology to healthcare terms (including patient safety indicators) and adding new performance measurement indicators that are relevant to healthcare.

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