Healthcare and the nature of healthcare systems and workflows are complex. It is a challenge to develop ways to address the dynamic workflow and ever-changing need of health information technology (HIT) solutions. The socio-technical model addresses eight key areas when evaluating the design, development, implementation, and use of an HIT system for a health care organization. The eight aspects are hardware and software, clinical content, human-computer interface, people, workflow and communication, internal organizational features and external rules and regulations, and measurement and monitoring. The model is multidimensional with interrelated and interdependent concepts that are important to address in order to ensure the appropriate HIT system selection.
The hardware and software dimension encompasses various technical aspects. The computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and bar-code scanners are examples of the hardware encountered in an HIT system. The servers, data-center, fire-suppression systems, and networking equipment are also examples of the hardware used. The hardware uses software in order to run, such as operating systems, for example Windows, Apple, or Linux, data loss prevention solutions (DLP) such as Websense, or electronic health record (EHR) platforms like Cerner, Epic, or GE. This dimension is the lesser known, most of the time users do not think of it until something quits working, for instance the internet goes down, can't log into the EHR, or can't retrieve data from the server.
Clinical content is the front facing dimension of the model. This dimension is where tools are used to create ways to enter data that represents the patient's state. Clinical content can denote many areas: laboratory results, radiology results, radiation reports, progress notes, and medications to name a few. And there are different ways to collect the data, structured and unstructured. Structured data allows reports to gather data and create trending graphs, predict outcomes, give clinical decision support, and forecast operational budgets. There is also unstructured data, which closely represents the way paper charts were used. However because the data is unstructured it cannot be easily mined for reporting or manipulation. Whichever way is used, it is important to consider the user and their workflow to ensure best practice, workflow efficiency, and accuracy of data.
The user interaction developed by the software designer is called the human-computer interaction (HCI). With the system working as designed, the user's feedback is used to help match up the HCI to the clinician's workflow. It is important to ensure that the ergonomics are considered. For instance, mandating that providers must use dragon for free-text entries with non-noise cancelling microphones, they may have difficulty with the voice-recognition software understanding them due to the noise it will pick up in the background on the clinical floor. If a provider has...