Challenges to inter-departmental coordination of patient transfers: A workflow perspective

Joanna Abraham, Madhu C. Reddy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study is to identify challenges to inter-departmental coordination activities that affect patient transfer workflow and to provide socio-technical requirements for the design of technologies to better support patient transfer workflow. Design: We conducted our study in two clinical and one non-clinical department at a major academic hospital. We utilized qualitative data collection techniques including observations of patient transfer practices of the different departments and interviews with departmental staff to collect data on the inter-departmental coordination activities and its effect on patient transfer workflow. Results: We identified three inter-departmental challenges that affected the patient transfer workflow: ineffective inter-departmental interactions, ineffective information handoffs, and ineffectiveness of current information technologies. Discussion: To address these challenges, we discuss three socio-technical design requirements that designers need to pay attention to while developing inter-departmental healthcare information systems. To ensure effective inter-departmental coordination, the systems should incorporate features that can support the mediating role of integrators, the collaborative balancing of goals, and the collaborative prioritization of resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Clinical and non-clinical departments
  • Cooperative behavior
  • Coordination
  • Information management
  • Inter-departmental workflows
  • Patient transfers
  • Qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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