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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The identification of information needs for planning and managing emergency department health services in British Columbia Smyth, Barbara Laurel


The rapid and accelerating growth of hospital Emergency Department utilization over the past twenty years has transformed a once well-defined and well bounded care setting into a highly complex and integral component of a total health care system. This increasing role complexity has created a demand by hospital decision-makers for an information system to describe, measure and evaluate Emergency Department activity within the context of broader health care issues and activities. This study is an attempt to identify and integrate the information needs of the hospital decision-makers into a meaningful whole. The evolution of emergency care in British Columbia is described in order that needs for information will not be developed in isolation from the activities of major planning, funding and professional groups in the health services. Two major issues are identified in the literature - the utilization of Emergency Departments and thrusts towards classification or categorization of Emergency Department capabilities. From this, three major policy/planning foci are selected - day to day emergency care, disaster planning, and the "mopping-up" role of Emergency Departments. Ideas about these are developed in light of six classifications of information users' needs - patient care, management, quality of care, strategic planning, research and development and policy-formulation. "Needs" were validated by two panels of major decision-makers from a representative sample of Greater Vancouver Regional Hospital District Hospitals. The results of the investigation are analyzed in light of the issues of professional power and control and political influences and recommendations made as to the appropriate components of a hospital emergency department information system.

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