From Ethnographic to Technology: Automatic Support to Health Information Coding Process in Ticino

Luca Camerini, Marco Boneshi


Health information coding is an important issue in the field of health communication. lt is a complex and widespread activity and constitutes the premises for hospitals' correct reimbursement and epidemiological statistics. Furthermore, this topic is crucial for patient safety and assuring the continuity of care as long as it involves the transmission of accurate information to general practitioners and other health care providers. This paper presents an ongoing research project conducted in collaboration with Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale (EOC) in Ticino, Switzerland. The goals of the study are (a) to analyze the practice of the coders in order to elicit its critical factors, (b) starting from the results of (a) and assuming the potential of automation in enhancing collaborative tasks, to evaluate possible strategies co support chis practice with a technological intervention (is it possible co reduce time, costs and errors ?) . The methodology mainly uses qualitative methods, in particular ethnography of the workplaces. In the ethnographic study we elicited 6 main problematic issues in the EOC process, namely 1) lengthy time or inaccuracy for first redaction of medical records (MRs), 2) lengthy time for first review of MRs 3) lengthy time for final validation of MRs, 4) double receiver of the MRs (conflicting scopes of the same communication channel and message structuring), 5) difficult interpretation of MRs, 6) double scope of the coding process (statistical and economic). In conclusion, the paper discusses our results, their relevance for designing technological interventions, strategies of improvement, alongside supporting further research developments and challenges. 


health communication; ethnography; health technology; medical records

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896