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TechWatch is an online system to monitor problems with e-health that are creating risks for patient care. It was developed by CRE researchers in collaboration with Flinders University.

Tested in general practice

TechWatch was deployed to general practices across Australia over a 19-month period between 2012-2013. Over this period general practitioners reported 90 incidents that could lead to patient harm or near miss events. While some of the patient safety risks were carried over from the historical paper records system, there were an array of additional disruptions in workflow and hazards for patients unique to IT.

The study showed that IT problems disrupt care delivery and pose risks to patient safety. Some errors that were exclusively caused by IT issues included problems with user interfaces, routine updates to software packages and drug databases, and the migration of patient records to new systems. We also found that issues arose due to computer-human interactions, where errors such as selecting the incorrect drug on a drop-down menu, ordering medications for the wrong patient after being distracted during the electronic ordering process, ease of access to structured notes on the electronic system causing GPs not to check other records that may not be as readily accessible, and failure to use the latest protocols were also apparent. The study highlighted a need for surveillance of hazards around times when clinics are migrating historical records to new systems and software updates are occurring.

For more information about TechWatch or to join our team

Contact Associate Professor Farah Magrabi, farah.magrabi@mq.edu.au, +61 2 9850 2429