Impact of a computer-based patient record system on data collection, knowledge organization, and reasoning

V. L. Patel, A. W. Kushniruk, S. Yang, J. F. Yale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the effects of a computer-based patient record system on human cognition. Computer-based patient record systems can be considered 'cognitive artifacts,' which shape the way in which health care workers obtain, organize, and reason with knowledge. Design: Study 1 compared physicians' organization of clinical information in paper-based and computer-based patient records in a diabetes clinic. Study 2 extended the first study to include analysis of doctor-patient-computer interactions, which were recorded on video in their entirety. In Study 3, physicians' interactions with computer-based records were followed through interviews and automatic logging of cases entered in the computer-based patient record. Results: Results indicate that exposure to the computer-based patient record was associated with changes in physicians' information gathering and reasoning strategies. Differences were found in the content and organization of information, with paper records having a narrative structure, while the computer-based records were organized into discrete items of information. The differences in knowledge organization had an effect on data gathering strategies, where the nature of doctor-patient dialogue was influenced by the structure of the computer-based patient record system. Conclusion: Technology has a profound influence in shaping cognitive behavior, and the potential effects of cognition on technology design needs to be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-585
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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