Determining primary care physician information needs to inform ambulatory visit note display

M. A. Clarke, L. M. Steege, J. L. Moore, R. J. Koopman, J. L. Belden, Min Soon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Background: With the increase in the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) across the US, primary care physicians are experiencing information overload. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the information needs of primary care physicians (PCPs) as they review clinic visit notes to inform EHR display. Method: Data collection was conducted with 15 primary care physicians during semi-structured interviews, including a third party observer to control bias. Physicians reviewed major sections of an artificial but typical acute and chronic care visit note to identify the note sections that were relevant to their information needs. Statistical methods used were McNemar-Mosteller's and Cochran Q. Results: Physicians identified History of Present Illness (HPI), Assessment, and Plan (A&P) as the most important sections of a visit note. In contrast, they largely judged the Review of Systems (ROS) to be superfluous. There was also a statistical difference in physicians' highlighting among all seven major note sections in acute (p = 0.00) and chronic (p = 0.00) care visit notes. Conclusion: A&P and HPI sections were most frequently identified as important which suggests that physicians may have to identify a few key sections out of a long, unnecessarily verbose visit note. ROS is viewed by doctors as mostly "not needed," but can have relevant information. The ROS can contain information needed for patient care when other sections of the Visit note, such as the HPI, lack the relevant information. Future studies should include producing a display that provides only relevant information to increase physician efficiency at the point of care. Also, research on moving A&P to the top of visit notes instead of having A&P at the bottom of the page is needed, since those are usually the first sections physicians refer to and reviewing from top to bottom may cause cognitive load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-190
Number of pages22
JournalApplied Clinical Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • Data display
  • Electronic health record
  • Information needs
  • Information seeking behavior
  • Primary care physicians
  • User-computer interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management

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