Designing and evaluating an electronic patient falls reporting system: Perspectives for the implementation of health information technology in long-term residential care facilities

Yi You Mei, Jenna Marquard, Cynthia Jacelon, Audrey L. DeFeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Patient falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death among older adults. In 2000, falls resulted in over 10,300 elderly deaths, costing the United States approximately $179 million in incidence and medical costs. Furthermore, non-fatal injuries caused by falls cost the United States $19 billion annually. Health information technology (IT) applications, specifically electronic falls reporting systems, can aid quality improvement efforts to prevent patient falls. Yet, long-term residential care facilities (LTRCFs) often do not have the financial resources to implement health IT, and workers in these settings are often not ready to adopt such systems. Additionally, most health IT evaluations are conducted in large acute-care settings, so LTRCF administrators currently lack evidence to support the value of health IT. Methods: In this paper, we detail the development of a novel, easy-to-use system to facilitate electronic patient falls reporting within a LTRCF using off-the-shelf technology that can be inexpensively implemented in a wide variety of settings. We report the results of four complimentary system evaluation measures that take into consideration varied organizational stakeholders' perspectives: (1) System-level benefits and costs, (2) system usability, via scenario-based use cases, (3) a holistic assessment of users' physical, cognitive, and marcoergonomic (work system) challenges in using the system, and (4) user technology acceptance. We report the viability of collecting and analyzing data specific to each evaluation measure and detail the relative merits of each measure in judging whether the system is acceptable to each stakeholder. Results and conclusions: The electronic falls reporting system was successfully implemented, with 100% reporting at 3-months post-implementation. The system-level benefits and costs approach showed that the electronic system required no initial investment costs aside from personnel costs and significant benefits accrued from user time savings. The usability analysis revealed several fixable design flaws and demonstrated the importance of scenario-based user training. The technology acceptance model showed that users perceived the reporting system to be useful and easy to use, even more so after implementation. Finally, the holistic human factors evaluation identified challenges encountered when nurses used the system as a part of their daily work, guiding further system redesign. The four-pronged evaluation framework accounted for varied stakeholder perspectives and goals and is a highly scalable framework that can be easily applied to health IT implementations in other LTRCFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E294-E306
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Assisted living
  • Electronic medical record
  • Health information technology
  • Nursing home
  • Patient falls
  • Technology adoption
  • Usability


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