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Faculty & Staff Honors

Iowa: Researchers Examine Care Providers’ Communication Networks Through Electronic Health Records

A research team led by faculty in the University of Iowa College of Public Health recently received a new grant to study patterns of information sharing among healthcare professionals in electronic health records (EHR) systems.

The project, led by Dr. Xi Zhu, associate professor of health management and policy, will examine EHR-based communication in virtual care teams and the relationship between EHR communication networks and quality of care. The research is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“Electronic health records systems have been widely adopted throughout the U.S. healthcare system and they are changing the way healthcare professionals deliver care and communicate with each other,” says Dr. Zhu. “Today’s healthcare professionals often work as virtual care teams – a variety of practitioners providing care to the same patients, but working at different times and locations – all connected through the EHR. Yet, it’s not clear how the EHR is impacting communication and teamwork among them and how those factors might affect the quality of care that patients receive.”

This new project will seek to develop methods for measuring the communication that takes place within EHR networks, and then examine associations between EHR communication and patient outcomes, such as hospital re-admissions, emergency department visits, and mortality.

Other members of the research team include Dr. Daniel Sewell, University of Iowa assistant professor of biostatistics, as well as investigators at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of California–Davis.

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