• The effects of inter-organisational information technology networks on patient safety: a realist synthesis

      Keen, J.; Abdulwahid, M.; King, N.; Wright, J.; Randell, Rebecca; Gardner, Peter H.; Waring, J.; Longo, R.; Nikolova, S.; Sloan, C.; et al. (2020)
      Health services in many countries are investing in inter-organisational networks, linking patients’ records held in different organisations across a city or region. The aim of the systematic review was to establish how, why, and in what circumstances these networks improve patient safety, fail to do so, or increase safety risks, for people living at home. Design Realist synthesis, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative evidence, and including consultation with stakeholders in nominal groups and semi-structured interviews. Eligibility criteria The co-ordination of services for older people living at home, and medicine reconciliation for older patients returning home from hospital. Information sources 17 sources including Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, ACM Digital Library and Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA). Outcomes Changes in patients’ clinical risks. Results We did not find any detailed accounts of the sequences of events that policy makers and others believe will lead from the deployment of interoperable networks to improved patient safety. We were, though, able to identify a substantial number of theory fragments, and these were used to develop programme theories. There is good evidence that there are problems with the co-ordination of services in general, and the reconciliation of medication lists in particular, and it indicates that most problems are social and organisational in nature. There is also good evidence that doctors and other professionals find interoperable networks difficult to use. There was limited high quality evidence about safety-related outcomes associated with the deployment of interoperable networks. Conclusions Empirical evidence does not currently justify claims about the beneficial effects of interoperable networks on patient safety. There appears to be a mismatch between technology-driven assumptions about the effects of networks and the socio-technical nature of co-ordination problems. Review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017073004