Publication Details

Zhang, Y., Yu, P. & Shen, J. (2012). The benefits of introducing electronic health records in residential aged care facilities: A multiple case study. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 81 (10), 690-704.


Purpose: Information and communications technology solutions have been introduced into the residential aged care system in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aged care, however to date, the actual benefits have not been systematically analysed. The aim of this study was to identify the benefits of electronic health records (EHR) in residential aged care services and to examine how the benefits have been achieved. Method: A qualitative interview study was conducted in nine residential aged care facilities (RACFs) belonging to three organisations in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, Australia. A longitudinal investigation after the implementation of the aged care EHR systems was conducted at two data points: January 2009 to December 2009 and December 2010 to February 2011. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 110 care staff members selected through theoretical sampling, representing all levels of care staff who worked in those facilities. Results: Three categories of benefits were perceived by the care staff members according to who gain the benefits: the benefits to individual care staff members, to residents and to the RACFs. The benefits to individual care staff members include an improvement of documentation efficiency, information and knowledge growth as well as empowering the staff; the benefits to residents are an improvement in the quality of individual residents’ health records, the higher quality of care and smoother communication between the residents and aged care staff; the RACFs gain an increased ability to manage information and acquire funding, an increase in their ability to control the care quality and improvements in the working environment and educational benefits. Three factors leading to these benefits were examined: the nature of the aged care EHR systems in comparison with paper-based records; the way the systems were used by the staff and one benefit that could lead to another. Conclusions: In this study, EHR systems were perceived to have substantial benefits for care staff, residents and the aged care organisations introducing the systems. The benefits were derived from the nature of the aged care EHR systems, staff members’ continuous use of the systems, and one benefit led to the other.

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