Quantitative ethnographic study of physician workflow and interactions with electronic health record systems

Onur Asan, Erin Chiou, Enid Montague

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study explores the relationship between primary care physicians' interactions with health information technology and primary care workflow. Clinical encounters were recorded with high-resolution video cameras to capture physicians' workflow and interaction with two objects of interest, the electronic health record (EHR) system, and their patient. To analyze the data, a coding scheme was developed based on a validated list of primary care tasks to define the presence or absence of a task, the time spent on each task, and the sequence of tasks. Results revealed divergent workflows and significant differences between physicians' EHR use surrounding common workflow tasks: gathering information, documenting information, and recommend/discuss treatment options. These differences suggest impacts of EHR use on primary care workflow, and capture types of workflows that can be used to inform future studies with larger sample sizes for more effective designs of EHR systems in primary care clinics. Future research on this topic and design strategies for effective health information technology in primary care are discussed. Relevance to industry: This paper presents the effect of EHR use on workflow of a primary care visit. Understanding physicians' interaction styles can inform design of specific features of future health IT systems for more effective and efficient workflow in outpatient setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • EHR
  • Interaction styles
  • Primary care
  • Workflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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