Rationale and aim Clinical Information-Retrieval Technology (CIRT) is increasingly used, for example in accessing drug databases. However, no comprehensive framework exists to understand why health professionals search for information using CIRT. The present article aims to propose such organizational framework.
Background Our literature review suggests six reasons, of which three refer to cognitive objectives (C1, C2, C3) and three to organizational objectives (O1, O2, O3): (C1) to answer-solve-support a clinical question-problem-decision; (C2) to fulfil an educational-research objective; (C3) to search in general or for curiosity; (O1) to share information with patients; (O2) to exchange information with other health professionals; (O3) to plan-manage-monitor tasks with other health professionals.
Methods The case study examined the use and impact of the InfoRetriever software on handheld computers in a Canadian family practice centre. Using the Critical Incident Technique, six family doctors were interviewed on specific events. A thematic analysis assigned extracts of interviews to reasons for use.
Findings and conclusion Findings illustrate the six reasons, and suggest a seventh reason that refers to a cognitive objective, namely (C4) to overcome the limits of health professional memory. These seven reasons are interpreted according to the literature on information science and organization studies, which suggest ordering reasons at three levels of stimulation of learning and knowledge: none (objective not achieved), moderate (cognitive objective achieved), and high (organizational objective achieved). This paves the way toward a new evaluation of relevance of CIRT in everyday practice (judgement based on professionals’ objective achievement) using an organizational model of information-retrieving processes.