Outstanding research: Prize winners Ragnhild Hellesø from University of Oslo and Line Melby, SINTEF. Photo: Thor Nielsen.

Prize for e-messaging research

The introduction of e-messaging by the Norwegian municipalities has made communication between health visitors, doctors and hospitals much easier.

This has now been demonstrated by the results of a research project carried out by SINTEF and the University of Oslo (UiO), and the researchers behind the study, Line Melby at SINTEF and Ragnhild Hellesø at UiO, have recently received SINTEF’s outstanding research achievement award for 2015.

Easier communication and automatic documentation

Three municipalities took part in the study and a wide selection of health and administrative personnel were interviewed.  The researchers were specifically interested in what impact the use of information technology has on the quality and accuracy of the information exchanged. According to the researchers, the introduction of e-messaging has made communication easier. Levels of communication have increased and messaging also results in automatic documentation.

As well as conducting interviews, the researchers accompanied home care nurses on 97 home visits. The home care nurses reported that they felt they were taken more seriously, and that e-messaging promoted accessibility and greater quality in communication. Written messages also provided an opportunity for reflection.

Both doctors and nurses thought that the system reduced errors in treatment and care. Since the messages are incorporated into patients’ medical records, e-messaging also contributes towards better patient safety.

Essential supplementary information

However, e-messaging will not replace traditional communication channels. The telephone remains an essential tool, for example in emergency situations.

The survey also revealed some shortcomings of the system. Some of those interviewed thought that having to combine using the telephone, paper records and e-messaging created confusion.  Others reported that they missed face-to-face communication.

The research prize is awarded for outstanding scientific work that has drawn international attention within its field and been published in a peer-reviewed international periodical. The prize consists of a certificate and NOK 150,000 to be shared among the award recipients.

Click on this link for the article “Introducing electronic messaging in Norwegian healthcare: Unintended consequenses for interprofessional collaboration.”